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Me and Julio delays opening

Last week, Hastings' newest restaurant, Me and Julio, had planned on opening its doors to the public this weekend. They even got a day of employee training done. But because of the state government shutdown, the restaurant has been forced to adjust those plans. Me and Julio now plans to open Monday, Aug. 1, as long as the state is up and running by then.

Construction and mechanical work has continued over the past weeks, but the restaurant can't have food or alcohol into the building until it passes its electrical inspection. The inspections, however, are done through the Department of Labor and Industry, which is only offering critical services during the shutdown.

"We can't get food in the restaurant until that's inspected," said Brian Riess, the restaurant's general manager.

There's a final inspection as well that will be delayed by the government shutdown. Me and Julio was already approved for a liquor license by the City of Hastings, but the license needs state approval as well.

While the restaurant waits, workers are finishing up the building, which is nearly finished. Training is expected to begin again at the end of the month, Riess said.

There is some good news. The delay allows Me and Julio a soft opening, which Riess and the owners are more accustomed to, he said. If the Aug. 1 date can be met, they'll have a quiet opening on a Monday, see customers trickle in throughout the week and be running smoothly for the first weekend rush. It will be less stressful than opening on a festival weekend, Riess said.

Me and Julio won't get the publicity bump it could have gotten if its original opening had been possible, but Riess wasn't too concerned. Most people in Hastings already know the restaurant is coming soon, he said.

"Being open for Rivertown Days I think would have given us more exposure to people who are not from Hastings," he said.