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Perkins 169 closes amid staffing challenges

A long-time late-night favorite in North Mankato has shut its doors.

The Perkins off Highway 169 on Range St officially closed Sunday afternoon.

Franchise owner Kevin Wharton says the location has been a Perkins for 40 to 50 years, although he’s owned it for just the last three.  It was a corporate-owned store prior to that. Wharton says it’s not likely that the company will take over operation again.

Wharton cited staffing challenges were the primary reason for the closure, but he also says that something changed after COVID.  His Perkins store on Madison Ave has started to bounce back after the pandemic shutdowns, but, he says, the highway location just didn’t seem to be coming back.

The 169 Perkins was a 24/7 location prior to COVID.  Acting General Manager Carrie Moran was emotional about the closure as she spoke about the challenges the restaurant had faced.  She said she saw signs that closure was imminent, but that it still felt sudden when it finally happened.

Wharton, meanwhile, called the end bittersweet. Staffing problems that resulted in sales losses made it seem more feasible to have just one store, he says.

The Range St Perkins had about 20 employees, including one woman who had worked at the restaurant for 42 years.

Wharton said he hopes Mankato turns out to support the Hilltop store, which he expects will extend hours – potentially to midnight – once they organize the additional staff coming from the Highway 169 store.

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