Rochester restaurants grow in midst of pandemic

(ABC 6 News) – Not all restaurants and businesses struggled during the pandemic.

Many entrepreneurs decided to take on a new challenged and even open up a new business.

According to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, new business applications rose by 26 percent in 2020 and 2021.

"A lot of people were laid off work for obvious reasons and I think it was time for them to just kind of sit back and reevaluate the goals that they had many years ago," Tawonda Burks, owner of Elocina LLC, said. Elocina is a consulting firm in Rochester that specializes in consultation services and educating small business owners.

Within the last few years, Burks has seen a huge increase in services at her firm with aspiring entrepreneurs coming to her to kickstart their ideas.

Across town, Rosati’s Pizza opened its doors last November during the height of the pandemic because the owner thought this restaurant is what Rochester needed.

On the first day the Chicago-style pizzeria opened, it had to close down for the day because it was so busy.

"And that’s what we had to do. We just hit a certain limit and we couldn’t produce anymore. There was too much of an influx coming in," General Manager Denise Hecht said. "But then everybody came together and we actually ended up being over staffed so that was really never a problem for us, I know it was for some businesses."

Food trucks also saw success, like Corona’s Tacos in Rochester which has been open since 2017.

"We had a lot of sales because a lot of restaurants closed," co-owner Leticia Corona said.

Because of that, the food truck remained open the whole pandemic.

"It was just fine because a lot of people know us more and now we have more customers," Corona said.

She said people felt safer coming to a food truck and ordering take-out.

The increase in sales also forced them to open up another location in the Galleria and possibly a third location to come.

"The more you support local businesses it just makes sense, right? Because it impacts the local community. These same small business owners are going to turn around and shop right in the community as well," Burks said.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said startups in Minnesota get off the ground faster and survive longer than businesses in other states.