Sporty’s liquor license request met with opposition

Como residents convene to argue for and against the restaurant’s license.

Tara Bannow

After getting the green light from the state to bypass a zoning hurdle that made SportyâÄôs Pub & Grill in Como ineligible for a liquor license, owner Joe Radaich is now working with the city of Minneapolis to complete the process. âÄúIâÄôve been telling people, like a football analogy, this is the fourth quarter in terms of the process,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre in the home stretch.âÄù But some are concerned about how the new liquor license could affect the community. About 30 Como residents attended a Thursday Van Cleve Park meeting that quickly turned into a heated discussion over RadaichâÄôs potential new license. Most of the comments centered on students. Some worried that if SportyâÄôs is allowed to serve liquor, the swarms of intoxicated students roaming through Como would increase. âÄúStudents like to get drunk,âÄù said Diane Pederson, a Como resident who opposes SportyâÄôs liquor license because she said it would negatively impact livability in the neighborhood. âÄúHarder liquor, drunker quicker.âÄù If SportyâÄôs gets its liquor license, it would increase noise, parties, parking issues and public urination in the surrounding area, Pederson said. But others, like Como resident Mona Beckman , said the students she sees walking past her house are going to parties and bus stops, not necessarily the bar. Beckman, who has lived in the area for 34 years, said SportyâÄôs getting its liquor license would have no impact on the noise and vandalism caused by students. The fact that Radaich purchased the building after initially renting it shows commitment, Beckman said. âÄúHe has made huge investments to stay in this neighborhood and is really trying hard to make it a cleaner corner,âÄù she said. Following a promotional stint that included sending over 100 postcards to Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis and Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis , creating a petition and a Facebook group with over 300 members, the state Legislature granted SportyâÄôs exemption from the zoning requirements that had previously prohibited it from applying for its full liquor license. Ward 2 City Councilmember Cam Gordon said issues like this are always controversial, but since Radaich has approached neighborhood groups, there may be some openness to his request. Gordon said heâÄôs received e-mails supporting SportyâÄôs. âÄúItâÄôs a possibility,âÄù Gordon said. âÄúHeâÄôs got support from the Legislature.âÄù Currently, SportyâÄôs is only licensed to serve beer thatâÄôs 3.2 percent alcohol. Radaich is seeking the license to serve regular beer, wine and liquor. It is also seeking to expand its seating out onto the sidewalk, a matter which wasnâÄôt discussed at ThursdayâÄôs meeting. If the cityâÄôs licensing department finds that SportyâÄôs meets the requirements, it will make a request to have the Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee vote on the issue, license inspector Michele Olds said. If it passes, it would then go to the full City Council for a vote. The final step would be getting mayoral approval. Four years ago, the state Legislature re-zoned ManningâÄôs Cafe and Bar , SportyâÄôs neighbor and main source of competition, making it eligible for a full liquor license. Judging by the amount of support he received at the meeting, Radaich said heâÄôs confident he will get the license. âÄúI was happy that my customers and neighbors came out,âÄù he said. âÄúI think that really made an impact.âÄù