Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

In Minneapolis, Wild Greg’s Saloon closes, the latest victim of hospitality crisis in deep-blue cities

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Crime and COVID-19 restrictions have claimed yet another business in the already-eviscerated Minneapolis hospitality scene. 

Wild Greg’s Saloon closed its sprawling nightclub in troubled downtown Minneapolis just days after its owner highlighted for Fox News the growing chasm between the restaurant crisis in deep-blue cities and the thriving hospitality scene in red-state America. 

“Minneapolis is a ghost town,” Greg Urban told Fox News Digital on Monday in a phone interview. “We’re in much better shape being closed than being open. We stopped the bleeding.” 

He added, “There was a lot of time, pride and effort that went into this place.”

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Urban also owns Wild Greg’s Saloons in Austin, Texas, and in Pensacola and Lakeland, Florida.

Those three operations are thriving, he said. 

Wild Greg's Saloon in Austin, Texas, has been packed since opening in May 2021. Owner Greg Urban also owns two saloons in Florida. Business is up more than 30 percent at his Florida establishments, compared with pre-COVID numbers, he told Fox New Digital.

Wild Greg’s Saloon in Austin, Texas, has been packed since opening in May 2021. Owner Greg Urban also owns two saloons in Florida. Business is up more than 30 percent at his Florida establishments, compared with pre-COVID numbers, he told Fox New Digital.
(Courtesy Greg Urban, Wild Greg’s Saloon)

The restaurant and entertainment scene in Minneapolis was devastated by crippling COVID restrictions dating back to March 2020, followed by riots in the summer of 2020.

Amid those riots, much of downtown Minneapolis was vandalized — and a crime surge continues to ravage the city. 

“Minneapolis is a ghost town.” — businessman Greg Urban

In Minneapolis, said Urban, “We haven’t turned a profit since February 2020. The city has never recovered. And now there is shooting after shooting.”

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The city nearly voted to defund its police department in 2021.  

Crime is a problem, Urban noted, but so, too, “is the perception of crime” that encourages people to stay away. 

“There is crime near our Austin location, too,” he said. “But when people step outside, they see cops on the street and know that somebody will be there to help them if needed.”

Greg Urban, owner of Wild Greg's Saloon in Minneapolis, just closed the business on August 20, 2022, after more than two years of losing money in the wake of COVID restrictions and citywide crime. He continues to operate three Wild Greg's Saloons in Texas and Florida, which he says are thriving. 

Greg Urban, owner of Wild Greg’s Saloon in Minneapolis, just closed the business on August 20, 2022, after more than two years of losing money in the wake of COVID restrictions and citywide crime. He continues to operate three Wild Greg’s Saloons in Texas and Florida, which he says are thriving. 
(Courtesy Greg Urban)

The number of daily diners in Minneapolis was down an average of 54.3% from July 2019 to July 2022 — less than half as many people eating out now than before pandemic lockdowns, according to data from restaurant reservation service OpenTable. It was the worst COVID recovery rate of any city in the world tracked by OpenTable.

Meanwhile, the average number of people dining out across Florida in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Tampa has surged nearly 30% from July 2019 to July 2022, according to the same source.

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Urban’s own operations mirrored the national trends. 

Business at his two Sunshine State hotspots is up about 30% over the pre-pandemic year of 2019. 

Business in Minneapolis was down “in excess of” 50% since 2020, before he closed the doors over the weekend.

Charles Stotts and wife Kacey White, owners of Town Talk Diner on Lake Street in Minneapolis, watch as water pours out of their restaurant on Thursday, May 28, 2020. The building had been looted the night before. 

Charles Stotts and wife Kacey White, owners of Town Talk Diner on Lake Street in Minneapolis, watch as water pours out of their restaurant on Thursday, May 28, 2020. The building had been looted the night before. 
(Andy Rathbun/MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images)

Urban is a member of the city council and a candidate for mayor in nearby Vadnais Heights.

He blames local politicians, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, for excessive mandates and restrictions in reaction to COVID, and for policies that stigmatized cops and law and order.

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“The politicians, especially the Democrats, they’re afraid of the woke mob,” said Urban. “They don’t want to do anything to cross the mob.” 

Two-thirds of Minnesota restaurants took on debt during COVID and the average amount was $500,000.

Wild Greg’s Saloon in Minneapolis employed 30 people. 

The workers all learned on Saturday night from Urban that they no longer had jobs at the nightclub, which was shuttered at the end of business that night. 

In Miami, Florida, a busy food court and dining area.

In Miami, Florida, a busy food court and dining area.
(Jeffrey Greenberg/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

There are already about 25,000 fewer people working in Minnesota clubs and restaurants now than before the COVID pandemic, according to trade group Hospitality Minnesota. 

The total number of restaurants that have closed in Minnesota is unknown. 

But those that survive face a long road to recovery. 

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“About two-thirds of restaurants took on debt during COVID and the average amount was $500,000,” Hospitality Minnesota spokesman Ben Wogsland told Fox News Digital last week. 

Wlld Greg’s Saloon in Minneapolis sprawled across 10,000 square feet and had a capacity of 1,000 guests. 

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The club hosted live music, including performers such as Uncle Kracker and Easton Corbin.

It was located on the city’s famed, once-thriving First Avenue, an entertainment district where Prince most notably got his start as a live performer.  



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