Sleepy Eye businesses reopen for dine-in, drink-in customers

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Monday, Jan. 11, marked the first day restaurants and bars in Minnesota could once again serve customers inside, rather than rely on take-out service. Governor Tim Walz announced that expected change on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The Herald-Dispatch asked some of Sleepy Eye’s eating and drinking establishments about their reaction and plan for reopening. 

Both Hardee’s and Dairy Queen will continue with drive-thru service only for now.

“It’s a corporate decision,” said Matt Heath, Hardee’s Manager. “But drive-thru only has been working well for us and our customers. It also means we don’t need to dedicate additional staff to cleaning the dining room. We appreciate the support of our customers.”

Scott Vaubel, owner of Dairy Queen, said his store has been very busy with drive-thru business during the pandemic and he plans to continue to operate the same way. He said the order area in Dairy Queen doesn’t provide enough space for customers to spread out and he also mentioned that not having to sanitize the dining area throughout the day is a savings in staff time.

“In addition to the drive-thru, people can go on the Dairy Queen website and place an order,” Vaubel said. “Then they can stop in to pick it up.” The doors are open to limited walk-in ordering during the day—a service that truck drivers especially appreciate said Vaubel, but he prefers that customers use the drive-thru or order online.

The Sleepy Eye Golf Club has continued to offer take-out meals during the shut down and Manager Jason Severson said they’ll continue to offer that but are also happy to start serving customers inside the clubhouse again.

Manager Jason Severson poured drinks for a couple of happy customers at the Sleepy Eye Golf Club on Monday evening, Jan. 11.

“We are lucky to live in such a great community that supports it's local businesses,” Severson said. “Thank you to all who have been able to support us through this tough time. We are excited to get back to some normalcy with indoor dining.” 

Severson said they ask that those who plan on indoor dining should call ahead for a reservation and follow all recommended COVID-19 regulations regarding distancing and mask use. 

“Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for the daily specials and see our menu on our website at Sleepyeyegolfclub.com,” said Severson. “Our hours of operation for dining will be 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. during the winter season. Bar hours are 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Call 507-794-5249 to place an  order or reserve a table for indoor dining. Thanks again Sleepy Eye for all your wonderful support!”

The new businesses at the Pix, Sleepy Eye Coffee Company and Sleepy Eye Brewing Company both happily welcomed customers back inside on Monday.

The coffee shop is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. 

“It'll look like the last time we had dine-in service under COVID-19 restrictions,” said co-manager, Dave Forster. “Tables are spaced six feet apart, parties will be restricted to six people per table, reservations are required, and patrons must wear masks inside until they are seated, when they can remove them.”

On the “brew” side of the Pix, manager Kelly Krzmarzick said the same about seating, plus they can allow bar seating for groups of two.

Forster said, “The restrictions we've operated under over the past year certainly haven't helped business, but we believe they have helped limit the spread of the virus in our community and hopefully have helped protect some of our most at-risk neighbors from getting sick or worse. 

“We're grateful for that. We're also grateful for the people and businesses who keep coming back (special thanks to Christensen Farms and Mark Thomas Co. for their multiple large orders in 2020).”

Forster said they responded to challenges from the pandemic by expanding their offerings to keep giving people something new and different. 

“We now make and sell homemade pizzas every Thursday night—which is a great addition for the brewery now that they are back open for dining-in as well, Forster said. “We started doing take-and-bake cinnamon rolls and bread loaves. Samarah [his wife and co-manager] keeps coming up with new baked goods—recent offerings included chocolate babka, Christmas bread pudding, shortbread cookies and beer bread. Now she is working on a special menu for a Valentine's Day couples dinner. We're looking forward to a more normal 2021 and hope anyone who hasn't stopped in to see us yet will give us a try!”

Krzmarzick said the taproom at Sleepy Eye Brewing Company was open 4 to 10 p.m. this week and will return to normal hours going forward—Wednesday through Friday 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  He said offsale crowlers are also available for purchase Mondays and Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We greatly appreciate our customers and the support we have received during the shutdown,” Krzmarzick said. “We will continue to follow the state mandated COVID-19 precautions.  We’ll take reservations by phone, as well as immediate walk-in reservations based on seating availability. Patrons will be required to wear a mask at all times when not seated.”  

Krzmarzick said  the Illegal Amigos food truck will be out front on Friday, Jan. 15 and they will have the delicious Mill Street Pizzas on Saturdays and Sundays.  

“Please continue to follow our Facebook page for the latest beer releases, food options, and other SEBC news,” Krzmarzick said. “We are excited to be back open and look forward to seeing all of our wonderful patrons again at SEBC.”