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After March closure, Jamieson's on Main in Oslo, Minn., is back, finally

Small-town pub in forefront in its survival during a pandemic.

Jamieson's in Oslo patrons (from left) Robin Shambaugh, Sally Gowan and Mike McEnroe pick up their orders as bartender Lucia Uppgaard serves them. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

OSLO, Minn. – Jamieson’s on Main is back in business – and its owner hopes it stays that way.

The small-town pub about 25 miles north of Grand Forks, like all bars and restaurants across Minnesota, was ordered to close by Gov. Tim Walz at 5 p.m. March 17. The 10-day closure was required to stem the spread of coronavirus.

On June 1, 75 days after the closure, Jamieson’s on Main opened its doors to on-sale alcohol.

“It felt like 10 years,” said Corey Jamieson, who bought the bar in the town of about 300 three years ago. “I never would have thought it would go long.”

The financial hit during the coronavirus pandemic has been severe, he said. Jamieson had to throw away part of the inventory he had purchased just before the closure order because it was perishable and spoiled. More significantly, he lost a lot of revenue in potential liquor sales.


Beyond the coronavirus pandemic, Jamieson’s business also took a hit from the spring flood, which made the bar inaccessible to out-of-town customers. It has added up to a difficult year.

If it weren’t for his second job working for a construction company, Jamieson wouldn’t have reopened the bar.

"This wouldn't be here if I had to rely on that," Jamieson said, nodding toward the bar from a table outside. The off-sale business was slow during the pandemic and flood, and the only food the bar sold curbside was pizza, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m, he said.

“Your bills still come,” Jamieson said. ”We would have had to close.”

He still is concerned about the future of his business. To comply with the governor's most recent order that bar and restaurant customers sit outside, Jamieson’s has tables on the sidewalk in front of the bar and in the back parking lot.

Jamieson wonders aloud about what will happen if the warm, sunny weather of this week takes a different turn.

“What are you going to do if it rains or the wind blows?” Jamieson said. ”The wind here blows six days out of seven. What are you going to do, eat with dust in your teeth?”

Even during the nice weather of this past week, business at Jamieson’s bar wasn’t as brisk as he would have liked.


“Unfortunately, we opened up in June; it’s lake time," he said. He hopes that by the time the fall sports season begins, the bar will be open for in-house liquor sales.

On Thursday, June 4, Lucia Uppgaard, a bartender at Jamieson’s was pouring drinks for the customers who came into the empty bar and took their drinks outside to customers at the tables. Uppgaard, a recent UND graduate, is working full-time at Jamieson’s this summer. She's grateful that the bar got the green light to serve on-sale, not only for the money she will make, but for the customers she gets to see again.

“I really missed everyone here. I have my regulars," Uppgaard said. During the past week, she’s been catching up on what they’ve been doing during the past two and a half months.

She’s not concerned about getting exposed to COVID-19 because customers are respectful about practicing social distancing, and Jamieson employees have disinfection protocols they’re following.

Outside the bar, Rod Erickson and Ted Pawlowski, who live down the road in Warren, Minn., were having a cold one at Jamieson’s while they waited for the burger basket they ordered from Kitty’s Cafe next door.

Pawlowski, who owns Ted’s Steam Clean, a carpet steam-cleaning business in Warren, and Erickson, who manages Riverside Golf Course there, understand the financial hit local businesses have taken during the pandemic, they said

“That’s what we drove over for, to support our small towns,” Erickson said.

Jamieson is glad that the governor's order, which took effect June 1, allows customers like Pawlowski and Erickson to be back at Jamieson’s.


“It’s a step for us, at least,” he said. Now he hopes Walz takes what Jamieson believes should be the next step.

“To start people coming inside and be back to normal,” he said

Patrons at Jamieson's in Oslo sit outside on a recent evening as the bar reopens. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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