ouncil votes to close cafe

Although Hard Times was not found guilty of drug trafficking, Administrative Law Judge Steve Mihalchick recommended action against the cafe.
[bold on]Robert Koch[bold off][fm][bold on][bold off][bold on][bold off]Staff Reporter[fm]
A Minneapolis City Council committee recommended Wednesday that the Hard Times Cafe business license not be renewed.
The West Bank coffeehouse and restaurant was closed for several weeks following a Jan. 26 police raid that found drugs on the premises.
Wednesdays vote by the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee was based on the findings of Administrative Law Judge Steve Mihalchick. All but one committee member voted against renewal.
Although Mihalchick found the cafe did not engage in trafficking, he did recommend the council take adverse action against the cafe. A preliminary recommendation was to hire security.
Hard Times co-owner Brian Monroe said two workers, the cafes attorney and several customers attended Wednesdays committee hearing.
I wasnt surprised by it, Monroe said. This was like their catch-all thing because every business has to have its license renewed every year.
Hard Times attorney Robert Dildine issued a press release Thursday saying cafe workers were denied the opportunity to discuss remedies with council members and also suggesting a conflict of interests existed.
The case against the cafe was prosecuted by the city attorney who also made the rules for the proceedings, Dildine said.
Asked whether he plans to contest the possible license renewal rejection, Dildine said, The best way is a fair hearing with the city council. We havent had one yet.
Minneapolis council member and committee Chairman Joe Biernat reportedly led the argument against renewal, saying the council needed to send a message.
Biernat could not be reached for comment.
Council member Paul Ostrow interpreted Mihalchicks recommendation differently.
I agree that a sanction was appropriate, Ostrow said. I did feel that it was an excessive penalty.
Council member Joan Campbell, in whose ward the cafe lies, said she has received many letters and phones calls from concerned neighbors over the years and will support any decision the council reaches.
A full council vote is scheduled for June 9.

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[italic on]Robert Koch covers police and courts and welcomes [italic off][italic on]comments at [email protected].[italic off]