Blarney Pub settles

To settle allegations of liquor violations, the bar will close periodically until August.

by McKenna Ewen

Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown will close periodically in the coming months and pay a hefty fine to the city as a result of underage drinking allegations.

Almost 19 months after KMSP-TV provided undercover footage showing underage University hockey players drinking in the bar on 14th Avenue Southeast, its owner has agreed to settle with the city.

The bar has already closed for the past two Mondays to comply with the settlement, which has yet to go before the Minneapolis City Council.

The bar will pay a $20,000 civil fine, according to the settlement, and will close for another 28 days, including Mondays through August 6 and the first 16 days of July.

Additional violations at the bar in the next two years would mean another 30 days of closure.

Lt. Robert Skomra, Minneapolis Police inspector for the 2nd Precinct, said the hockey allegations were “the tip of the iceberg.” The city accused the pub of serving alcohol to minors on four different occasions in 2005 as well as failing a compliance check in 2004.

Although the settlement has not been approved by the City Council, the bar has chosen to be proactive and comply with its conditions, said the bar’s owner, Mike Mulrooney.

Mulrooney said the settlement is not an admission of guilt.

“We made the agreement and settled with the city just to get the whole situation behind us,” Mulrooney said.

There was little benefit for the bar to continue such an expensive legal fight, he said.

“The whole process has been extremely expensive. Ö When you look at the $20,000, that’s minor compared to all of the things that we have gone through with lost business and the effect on our reputation,” he said

Blarney must also install an electronic identification card reader and confine alcohol sales to the second floor during all-ages events after 9 p.m.

The city will also conduct twice-yearly compliance checks at the bar, a higher rate than is normal for businesses.

Third Ward Councilwoman Diane Hofstede said the settlement was postponed so the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood group could discuss the item.

Ricardo Cervantes, Licenses and Consumer Services deputy director, said the settlement is the best possible outcome.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to see Blarney succeed,” he said.

The settlement also includes the formation of a group of liquor establishments in the southeast Minneapolis area, he said, which would not have happened if not for this incident.

“It’s taking what could have been the detriment of a

business and turning it into something positive,” Cervantes said.

Skomra said local bar owners and city representatives need an exchange of information specifically addressing underage drinking.

“I think it’s a good tool for both sides to utilize,” Skomra said.

Library Bar and Grill General Manager David Toby said he was unsure how business would be affected at neighboring bars.

More locals might go to other bars when Blarney is closed, but fewer people might come from other areas, he said.

“Traditionally, the more bars in the area, the more people come to the area,” Toby said.