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Bug-A-Boo closes again

Bug-A-Boo Bay is closed again.

The Alexandria restaurant closed last Wednesday morning and about 50 workers are out of a job, according to Shannon Bracey, front of the house manager at Bug-A-Boo Bay.

Equipment was hauled out of the restaurant and returned to vendors.

The decision to close came two days after a city council motion to allow Alexandria bars to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. failed when no one seconded it.

Bug-A-Boo Bay owner Randy Stodola told the council in October that if the one-hour alcohol extension weren't approved, he would close the restaurant, which had been struggling financially.

Stodola called the extra hour an "important tool" for the restaurant to make it during tough economic times.

Stodola told the council that the owner of the Zorbaz restaurant chain was interested in purchasing Bug-A-Boo Bay from him but that the deal hinged on the 2 a.m. closing time.

At that same meeting, Zorbaz founder Tom Hanson told the council that he planned to finalize the deal with Bug-A-Boo in January and that he intended to keep as many employees "as possible."

Zorbaz has nine locations - Cross Lake, Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids, Gull Lake, Big Sandy Lake (McGregor), Perham, Ottertail, Park Rapids and Pelican Lake. Most of them have a 2 a.m. closing time.

The transaction is uncertain right now. Stodola said last week that he didn't know what would happen with Zorbaz.

It's also uncertain what will become of gift cards customers have for Bug-A-Boo Bay. Bracey said that it would be up to new owners to decide whether to accept the gift cards.

In the meantime, the workers at Bug-A-Boo are looking for jobs.

"We are a close family out here," Bracey said. "Everyone is just devastated and we feel let down by the city council."

The Caribbean-themed restaurant closed last January but reopened in May after Stodola purchased the business from Dave and Debbie Bistodeau.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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