HIBBING — Nearly 30 people are going to lose their jobs when Grandma’s in the Park ceases operations this Friday.
Grandma’s in the Park is located inside the Hibbing Park Hotel building. The hotel closed in March and had employed about 70 people.
General Manager Brita Baratto told the Tribune Press on Wednesday that she and her staff at Grandma’s in the Park were still processing the finality of the pending closure confirmed one day earlier.
The dedicated restaurant staff on Wednesday was hard at work, preparing more than 400 meals for takeout and delivery on Thanksgiving. The restaurant will remain open for curbside and delivery until 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, Baratto said.
The devastating news comes at a particularly difficult time for the restaurant employees now faced with unemployment. Restaurants across the state are currently under an executive order by Governor Tim Walz that limits their operations to curbside or delivery to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Grandma’s in the Park is owned by the Jeno Paulucci Trust, and is not locally owned, according to Baratto. She said the closure isn’t strictly due to COVID, but that the pandemic was “the final nail.”
Once Baratto informed her staff of the closure on Wednesday, the restaurant reached out to the public on its Facebook page. The message was met with an abundance of sadness and support for the staff and business. There were also a few people who were angry to learn of the loss to the community.
“I greatly appreciate our guests from over the years,” Baratto said. “There are no words to express how grateful we are to this community.”
Baratto has been with Grandma’s in the Park for 21 years. There’s also longevity with much of the staff, including the head chef and a cook with 25 and 21 years, respectively. There’s also many of the servers that have been there for years.
“I’ll never, ever have a staff that we have right now with the longevity and care that goes into each day,” Baratto said.
Baratto said since word of the impending closure spread, other restaurants in the area have reached out to her and her staff.
In its history, Grandma’s in the Park has served as a venue for a number of special events, including weddings, holiday parties, family gatherings, and even the Chisholm High School Prom.
Baratto said the restaurant was working on planning parties for when the existing restrictions to prevent the coronavirus are lifted.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around it honestly,” Baratto said of the finality facing the restaurant.