By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some Minnesota restaurants have made a huge pivot this Thanksgiving. Originally planning on offering an in-person feast, they are now forced to close this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

As the Customer Service Manager at Keys Café and Bakery, Chad Selton is in downtown Minneapolis bagging up this year’s Thanksgiving following the guidelines that by now his crew knows well.

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“This is a tough situation for everybody,” Selton said. “I’m hoping this is it and we’re still open and happy staying positive.”

He’s staying positive that Minnesota’s month-long pause won’t turn into something more.

John Schiltz is the Owner and Chef at Lake Elmo Inn.

“It keeps you awake at night especially when you have so many employees who depend on you to be in business,” Schiltz said.

At the Lake Elmo Inn, owner and chef John Schiltz had 180 workers pre-pandemic in March. Now, just 35 are still around to collect a paycheck.

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Typically, the restaurant does three times the amount of business in December as it does in a normal month, and they made sure to get their massive decorations up early to light up a dark year.

“The way we decorate at Christmas and the way we celebrate Christmas is like no other restaurant in the Midwest. People come from miles around to see our place,” Schiltz said.

They’re optimistic customers will still be allowed inside to see them this Christmas. But for now, they’re focused on packing up hundreds of pies and meals for Thursday available for pick-up only.

“It should still be a very good day for us but this one day has to make up for the last two weeks of November and all I can do is hope. All I can do is hope,” Schiltz said.

Lake Elmo Inn is also donating Thanksgiving meals to nurses working at Regions Hospital on Thanksgiving. While Schiltz recognizes his business is in a bad spot, he says he’s aware there are other people hurting much worse this holiday season.

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Liz Collin