MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been six months since COVID-19 shut down restaurants and forced them to rethink how they operate.

Since reopening, some restaurants have gotten creative and found a way to keep their doors open. Some spots in the Twin Cities suburbs are finding a different definition of success.

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Scoreboard Bar and Grill in Minnetonka has found a way to draw in customers.

“The times I have come here at this time of night, the place is packed,” customer Jack Barbier said.

They’ve worked at it, bringing business up from about 10% after reopening to closer to half of what they used to see.

“We take our cleanliness level to the highest standard we can,” co-owner Mike Jennings said.

Jennings said they use a fogging machine to clean daily, staff wears gloves and they’ve added sanitizer to each table.

“And I think what we’ve been doing is we’re taking the two-thirds of people who really are afraid to go back to a restaurant, just trying to win them over one guest at a time,” Jennings said.

The restaurant is coming close to meeting the goal of breaking even during one month this year.

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Jennings says their regulars have really pulled through for them.

At Rock Elm Tavern in Maple Grove, the team got creative.

“Doing take-out or doing stuff in the parking lot, we keep throwing stuff against the wall, seeing what might work,” co-owner Troy Reding said.

They’re at about 70% of normal business. PPE helped and they know take-out will become critical again soon.

“So it’s doable. We’re able to survive in this at that level, but it’s not a long-term solution,” Reding said.

They’re holding steady for now. And are formulating plans for when the weather turns colder.

“We just hope that everything we’ve done has instilled confidence in our guests to come back,” Jennings said.

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Hospitality Minnesota tells WCCO, overall the suburbs are seeing more business than in downtowns like Duluth, Rochester, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. Those areas rely on events, sports and corporate business to draw people in, which are currently absent.

Jennifer Mayerle