Despite the latest COVID-19 shutdown leaving the Wow Zone in survival mode, General Manager Allison Jennings can’t wait to have her employees and customers back.
The 40,000-square-foot entertainment, bowling, and food complex will reopen its doors for the first time Monday since the November shutdown, which was imposed by Governor Tim Walz to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Although restaurants were allowed to open for take-out and curbside dining, Jennings said the option wasn’t right for the WOW Zone because of the cost and overhead of keeping such a large building open.
“The majority of what we do is the entertainment,” Jennings said of the decision to completely close down in November. “The bowling, the laser tag, mini-golf, and arcade. So we decided not to do anything. So we were fully shut down, and we had to do the same thing in the spring last year.”
Jennings said Wow Zone utilized two federal programs to stay afloat during the pandemic: the Economic Injury and Distaer loan, and the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP funds ran out in October. “It was really bad timing because it was right before property taxes are due. That was very tough.”
The business also applied for state and local grants, and Jennings also credits the relationship with their bank for getting them through the shutdown.
Some good, old-fashioned frugality is also required to get the local fun spot though some not-so-fun times. Jennings said they’ve worked with vendors to pause or shut down service. In summer, they turned down the air conditioning, in winter, the building’s temperature hovers around 50 degrees.
“All of that money we got last year through the loans, or PPE, or grants, all of that’s gone,” said Jennings. “We’re going through the savings right now.” The staff has also been reduced by more than half.
Despite the challenges, Jennings said she has no anxiety about reopening. “We are just happy that we can be back it.” She said the staff is like a family that has felt disconnected during the shutdown. “It’s really nice to get back to those friends and family that you work with every day,” she said.
Wow Zone opens Monday afternoon, with the following hours:
Monday – Thursday: 4:00pm-10:00pm