Bar and restaurant owners in Minnesota are likely keeping a closer eye on the forecast this week than they usually do. Governor Walz allowed for outdoor seating effective June 1 as part of a relaxation on business restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday was a threatening, stormy afternoon and evening. However Wednesday was a beautiful day. Thursday has started fine although a chance of storms late in the day could put a crimp in outdoor dining at restaurants or having a beverage at a bar, depending on when any weather rolls into the area.

Some businesses around Owatonna featured in this piece regularly have outdoor dining as an option. Others had to make modifications, including Reggie's Brewhouse. The downtown Owatonna establishment created an outdoor 'patio' out their back door that uses part of an already existing patio in addition to the alley and a segment of a parking lot, with the city's blessing. Businesses are limited on how many customers they may have at one time.

Reggie's owner Shoe is happy to be able to open for business again and invites people back. He adds that his dog RJ is missing all the people as well. Bartender Bryce is excited to get back to work, "We miss you more than you miss us." Shoe has spent some time sprucing up the interior of the bar and looks forward to showing that off soon.

Spare Time Entertainment on 18th Street across from the fairgrounds softball diamonds already had patio seating in place. In an email to KRFO radio, "The owners and management of Spare Time Entertainment are excited to reconnect with our customers. Our large patio is open with plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the summer weather along with our great food and drink."

"We are also continuing to do take-out for lunch and supper. Thank you to all the customers who have supported us with take-out orders and a visit to the patio this week. Our summer hours are Sunday through Thursday 11-9. Friday and Saturday 11-11, reservations required." Their number is 507-451-2524.

They also have an announcement on the reopening of Wings, also on 18th Street, "We’re excited to announce that Wings will be opening for patio seating on June 11th.  We’ve missed everyone and are looking forward to having you come enjoy some great food while soaking up some sunshine. Hours will be Sunday through Thursday 11-9, Friday and Saturday 11-11. Reservations are required. 444-9335."

In the latest edition of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism 'Tuesday Talk' e-newsletter, chamber president Brad Meier states, "Bars, restaurants are open for outdoor seating, but allowing some indoor seating is important for many. Fitness centers need additional options too as these businesses are working for their survival. We are asking the governor to open up more options."

A brief cruise around Owatonna during the Thursday lunchtime found full tables at Olivia's Restaurant and the Kernel Restaurant. There were several groups sitting at tables in the green space area just outside Old Town Bagels, downtown.

In other news from the chamber, Meier asks, "Displaying a Safe Shop Zone sign, but haven't registered it yet? You may be missing out on additional marketing. A simple (and short) registration will get your business included in free advertising by the People's Press!"