Lake Minnetonka brewery Wayzata Brew Works announced its immediate and permanent closure Tuesday morning with a strongly-worded statement citing COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz for the brewery’s decision to shutter its doors. In a press release shared on Facebook as well as the brewery’s website, the brewery also thanked its customers and employees for their support and efforts.
After almost five years of having a lot of fun brewing and serving beer, and providing a venue for many to listen to fantastic music on Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata BrewWorks has announced their plan to close immediately, after never having any Coronavirus cases traced to the BrewWorks.
Wayzata BrewWorks opened in April 2015, almost instantly became well known for the view of Lake Minnetonka, live music, exceptional craft beer and great pizzas. The likes of Don Felder (Eagles), Big and Rich band members, local celebrities of Chris Hawkey, Kat Perkins and Marshall Charloff have all played at the brewery along with hundreds of other local talented musicians.
After enduring the spring shutdown, imposed by the Governor, and then managing thru [sic] the Governor’s mandated reduction of capacity during our most profitable part of the year on Lake Minnetonka. We are now faced with a second shut down imposed by Governor Walz, a shutdown that doesn’t involve any sustainable relief from the Governor in order to help alleviate the economic calamity brought to our industry as a result of his decision. We have many thoughts around the Governor’s actions; we will leave it at this; Until the governor and others making the decisions around shutdowns and restrictions are personally financially affected by those decisions, those decisions will continue to cause unnecessary financial hardship.
We would like to thank all our customers over the years, and most importantly our employees, who were the absolute best employees anyone could ask for.
According to Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Wayzata Brew Works laid off about 10 full- and part-time employees along with their closure. The brewery had received a Paycheck Protection Program loan earlier this year which allowed them to survive the state’s initial COVID-19 shutdown, but reduced capacity during the Wayzata Brew Works’ peak business months and Minnesota’s recent shutdown proved too much to overcome.
Wayzata Brew Works opened its doors in the spring of 2016 with an intention to serve as a destination brewery for the Wayzata Bay area. Housed in the historic Boatwerks Building, the brewery’s scenic confines were located just 35 feet from Lake Minnetonka’s shores, and even boasted private docks directly adjacent to the brewery’s doors. Wayzata Brew Works’ founder, Robert Klick, became interested in opening a brewery of his own after helping his brother John Klick set up shop at Excelsior Brewing, where John served as a founding partner.
Robert’s beverage background was in distilling, and he originally hoped to open Wayzata Brew Works as a dual-purpose distillery-brewery, even going so far as to make a significant investment in distilling equipment. “[My interest in beer] started after helping John build his place,” he told The Growler in 2016, “I had no desire to get into the beer business at all. I was more interested in distilling.”
Unfortunately for Klick, a city ordinance in Wayzata prevented the owner from holding licenses for both a cocktail room and taproom under the same business. According to Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Klick and his partners presented a plan to the Wayzata City Council in 2018 to restructure the brewery and distillery as production-only businesses, while opening a new business that would serve as a bar and restaurant for Wayzata Brew Works’ products. As of Wayzata’s closure, Klick’s distillery plans were never realized.
Since that time, Klick, who is still listed as Wayzata Brew Works’s owner on the brewery’s liquor license, has stepped away from the business to pursue another venture, according to the brewery’s director of operations Kirk Litynski. When asked for any additional comments, Litynski, whose name appears on the brewery’s closure announcement, thanked his customers and employees.
“We just want to say thanks to all our customers, we will miss them dearly, and a huge thanks to our employees. They were top-notch.”