Dinkytown’s Kollege Klub a hub for COVID-19 cluster

Community members have expressed concern and frustration over the bar’s seeming lack of precautions.

The Kollege Klub, a popular bar in Dinkytown, on Saturday, June 20. Bars in Minneapolis recently reopened their doors, but have limited hours of operation.

Emily Urfer

The Kollege Klub, a popular bar in Dinkytown, on Saturday, June 20. Bars in Minneapolis recently reopened their doors, but have limited hours of operation.

by Brooke Sheehy

The Minnesota Department of Health has identified Dinkytown’s Kollege Klub bar as an epicenter of multiple COVID-19 cases.

As of Friday, the Kollege Klub has been linked to 22 positive COVID-19 cases between June 15 and 21, according to an MDH spokesperson. Some social media users have criticized the Kollege Klub’s overcrowding since the state eased restrictions on bars.

“Here in Minnesota, most young people do not personally know somebody who has been very ill or died from the virus, so it probably does not feel particularly real to them,” said University psychology professor Traci Mann. “It may feel like something that happens in other places, to other people, not to people like them.”

Mann said college-aged people tend to be less concerned about their health. She said they’re especially less likely to worry because data shows COVID-19 does not always seriously impact healthy younger people.

Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association executive director Chris Lautenschlager said the Kollege Klub’s lack of precaution “sets everybody back.”

“I am not blaming the students at all in this situation,” Lautenschlager said. “We are upset with the business, not only because they are not thinking about their patrons or the community, but because they are not thinking about public health in general.”

Lautenschlager said many Dinkytown bars and restaurants are mindful about the safety of their patrons and employees despite the business impact.

“Everyone wants to be back in business and get things running as normally as possible as quickly as possible, and it just feels like shortcuts were taken [at the Kollege Klub],” Lautenschlager said. “And for that, I am unapologetically mad about it.”

New data suggest that the median age of cases in the state have dropped to 39.7 years and that COVID-19 patients in the state ages 20-29 make up 7,388 confirmed cases as of Sunday — the largest segment of the population when compared to all other age groups. Kris Ehresmann, MDH Infectious Disease Division director, said in a media call that the lack of masks and social distancing has provided the opportunity for young people to be exposed when going out.

Mann said that she understands people are getting antsy after months of social distancing, but they need to “stay vigilant” to prevent further spread.

“It is that spread — before people even realize they have it — that makes this virus so hard to stop,” Mann said.

Kollege Klub staff declined to speak to the Minnesota Daily, and the bar could not be reached for comment.

A post on the Kollege Klub’s Facebook page said that the club is operating at half the capacity that is allowed under Gov. Tim Walz’s order. The post, which is dated June 18, also stated that reservations would be required after 7 p.m.

Second-year University student Kari Larsen said that as much as the community wants to blame students going out and having fun in crowded places, it is more important to look at the Kollege Klub as a lesson in what not to do so students can return to campus. 

“The reality is, we cannot safely have a fall semester that looks anything similar to what we have had in the past. … Ultimately the only way to ensure that we do not have to transition completely online and avoid a campuswide outbreak is for the majority to be conscientious of their decisions,” Larsen said. “Our choices do not just impact us anymore.”