EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) – An empty parking lot greeted lunchtime customers at Joe Senser’s Sports Grill and Bar in Eagan on Monday.

Located just off Interstate 35E and Lone Oak Road, the popular sports restaurant has been an Eagan fixture for nearly a decade. But instead of having a lunch with a friend, Mike Koegel drove up, glanced at the front door and drove away.

“A sign said, ‘Closed,’ just flat-out closed,” he said. “I knew it must be recent because I looked through the window and saw a City Pages from last Friday.”

In fact, the restaurant closed so recently that the restaurant’s 50 or so full-and part-time employees were shocked by the sudden closing. Those driving into the parking lot watched as movers loaded vans with merchandise and inventory. Beverage distributors loaded up kegs and beverage dispensers, and movers stacked framed sports memorabilia outside the back door.

A company spokesman said the Eagan closure was a “business decision.”

Senser’s director of operations, Mike Hrudka, said the closing has nothing to do with Amy Senser’s legal troubles. Senser’s wife is charged in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed Minneapolis chef Anousone Phanthavong along Interstate 94 and Riverside last summer.

Hrudka also said that the three remaining Senser’s Sports Grill and Bar locations (Plymouth, Bloomington and Rosedale) will remain open and are unaffected by Monday’s decision.

Carlson School of Management’s David Hopkins said, “An underperforming location is a drain on cash flow.”

The managing director of the school’s Carlson Brand Enterprise points out that thin margins in the restaurant business leave no room for error, and are made all the worse in a down economy.

“It makes perfect sense,” Hopkins said. “Like any business, you try to eliminate areas that are losing money or not seeing growth. So it makes perfect sense, especially in this market where consumers are very cautious in their spending.”

And in an industry where sports bars are plentiful, customers have a wide menu of choices. The sudden and unexpected closing means that customer Matt Foote will make lunch choice number two.

“Very shocking,” Foote said. “Joe Senser is a well known name in the area. So, yes, it’s a little shocking.”

Comments (20)
  1. Come on --- says:

    Oh the irony – all the posts from earlier have been deleted. Imagine that – Senser’s advertising on ‘cco = mucho

    Cannot say a word about the Senser Royalty now , can you 😉

    1. c'mon, please says:


  2. Classy says:

    Well – it does speak volumes to the real class the Senser Clan show lately – 50 or so employess obviously caught in the stash the cash scheme.
    Amy already has shown her true coloros and now we got the Man e’ Joe Blo showing his too.
    Classy folks then Senser’s are. lol
    I switched my business elsewhere after she took out the man ….. seems others are doing the same

  3. Susan says:

    Joe is a good man, you people have no idea what he is like and don’t know him personally. Businesses close all the time, don’t make this into more than it is, a business decision. Find your source of drama elswhere, where it is real, and matters….

    1. Deep Thinker says:

      So it doesn’t matter that his wife killed someone?………..interesting…….

      1. See BS says:

        His wife hit someone who was walking on the freeway at night for ignoring the bright yellow light that turns on when you have an empty gas tank.

    2. where's the beef???? says:

      it sure made local news on all the local major networks Susan… coincidence? i think not

    3. Bruiser says:

      I don’t know Joe at all. But not letting 50+ employees know that they won’t be getting that lifeline pay check that they rely on to pay next month’s rent is hardly an action that I would expect from a “good man.”

      How many stories has WCCO covered where restaurants have announced their final week before closing, so patrons can come in one last time and thank people? Many league classless.

      1. Bruiser says:

        I meant “Major league classless.”

    4. Olaf says:

      Susan–have you been drinking too much kool-aid? He knew he was shutting down but didn’t have the ba**s to inform his employees.

    5. Rick Garcia says:

      ok loser his wife killed a person and all u can say he was a good man,i hope carma finds you susan or what ever your real name is

  4. TL the alligator says:

    …BS…it has EVERYTHING to do with his wife and her criminal problem…..its the first step in damage control which is inevitable…..just callin it like it is.

  5. Tommy says:

    I loved there eat and run specials

    1. tommy b says:

      excuse me, their, eat and run specials….

    2. I can't believe it says:

      Hey Tommy. Incorrect use of there. It should have been their. You must be a football fan.

  6. Neighborhood person says:

    Ironic Susan – I suspect we may know one another if we really used our names here. 🙂
    That stated – I do not totally share your views of His Highness and Her Majesty. I am unsure of your relationship but it must be very close as those of us not within the Senser inner circle do not share your comment made.
    Pompous and arrogant at times is what we have experienced. That is how we perceive it.
    Business decision or asset protection? Maybe both. It was not ever discussed prior to the “accident” we all know so take that for what it is worth

  7. Kathleen Hogan says:

    I’m sure the Sensers and their lawyer are strategicly planning their moves for the upcoming criminal and civil case and are totally focused on saving their ass(et)s. Thus the restaurant sale. Meanwhile, there is person who died because of the actions of a clueless woman who cares more about the life she is living than the life she took. In the end, the rich, famous and the media will congratulate the Sensers on being so “smart” and “protective” and “clever”. To much of the public though, their actions have revealed their true character – selfish, deceptive, and heartless. And the media? Any other story like this would have had constant attention, whether there was activity or not. From the start though, the media “dumbed down” this manslaughter because it was one of their own. Cronyism at it’s finest. Bottom line – had the Sense…rs come clean right away, people would have understood (as it could have been any one of us). The Sensers would have had to sacrifice some of their ass(et)s in restitution of this offense, but they would have gotten it back full force by the support of the community in their restaurants and Joe’s sport activities. As it is, they have lost the respect of the community and may in the end lose their ass(et)s too. If they do walk away free, they will congratulate themselves and soothe their conscience by believing they did what they had to do to survive. In the end though, only they know what they did and only they have to live with their cowardly selves.

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