State shutdown postpones The Lowry’s opening

LOWRY HILL — The Lowry was all set for an Aug. 2 opening. Then the state government shutdown happened, and now the restaurant’s opening is on hold.

The problem is that even though it was submitted with more than a week to spare, the state wasn’t able to process The Lowry’s application for a “buyer’s card” before July 1.

The restaurant already has a full liquor license, but the card is needed for The Lowry to buy beer and alcohol from distributors.

Interior renovations at the old Hollywood Video site that will house The Lowry, 2112 Hennepin Ave. S., were almost completed as of July 18, and the Blue Plate Restaurant Company has already hired about 100 workers to serve, tend bar and cook.

Blue Plate Vice President Stephanie Shimp said the plan was for employee training to begin on July 12, but with the shutdown lingering into late July those workers were left idling at home.

“Here we are waiting with 100 employees ready to work,” she said. “We could’ve started training, but with no end [to the shutdown] in sight we didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up.”

Luke Shimp, Stephanie’s brother and chief financial officer for Blue Plate, estimated that for each week The Lowry’s opening is delayed, Blue Plate will lose out on $80,000 in sales revenue and won’t be paying $32,000 in wages. And of course, Blue Plate is still on the hook for rent and debt service among other fixed costs.

Stephanie Shimp said she also anticipates that many of the already-hired employees won’t be able to wait out the shutdown and will take other jobs, meaning Blue Plate will have to invest time and money to hire replacements.

From the state’s end, Luke Shimp estimates that The Lowry’s delay means a weekly loss of $4,100 in food sales tax, $2,625 in liquor sales tax and $4,800 in payroll taxes.

Whenever it opens — the hope is that with the shutdown coming to an end, the restaurant might still be able to get up and running by September — The Lowry will offer about 30 tap beers, keg wine, cask-conditioned ale and a full food menu featuring burgers, oysters and eggs.

Reach Aaron Rupar at arupar@mnpubs.com.