U-area bars are flourishing after later closing, council vote

Area bar owners say the later closing time has generated more business and few problems.The City Council rejected pr

A Area bar owners, employees and patrons said this week that the new 2 a.m. bar closing time that took effect July 1 in Minneapolis has not resulted in the problems some feared would.

“I really don’t feel like it affects us that much,” said Becky Schmitz, a University student and waitress at Bobby Z’s in Dinkytown. “Now people can just stay out later and have more fun.”

Bobby Z’s has not experienced any problems with the new bar time, employees said.

“Things haven’t gotten out of hand,” Bobby Z’s kitchen director Leroy Haflund said. “People just go out later now.”

Haflund said 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. are the new rush hours, and

Bobby Z’s stays busy until 2 a.m.

At Sally’s Saloon and Eatery in Stadium Village, the change was necessary, employees said.

“On Wednesday through Saturday, we’re still busy until 2 (a.m.),” full-time bartender Dean Kujawa said. “We at least have a decent amount of customers that make it worth staying open.”

Sally’s manager Ryan Cole said the extra hour is boosting the bar’s business.

“We’re definitely benefiting from it,” he said.

Tony Nicklow, owner of the Steak Knife in Dinkytown, said the change was overdue.

“This is one of the largest schools in the country,” Nicklow said. “We needed to catch up with the times.”

Student employees elsewhere on campus also appreciate the later hours.

Amy Knutson, a worker at Espresso Royale in Dinkytown, said employees used to be afraid to take the garbage out at closing because of the crowd leaving the bars at 1 a.m.

“We close at midnight and get out of here around 12:30, so when we’d leave, there were a lot of people leaving the bars too,” Knutson said.

“It’s better now because there are less drunk people coming in here trying to use our toilets at closing time,” she said.

Sara Fenske, a student and House of Hanson employee, said she appreciates the extra hour so she can go out after work.

“Now I don’t have to rush and drink a lot in an hour,” she said. “Now I can take my time. I can work and still go out after and enjoy myself.”

Fenske said drunk driving – a factor heavily debated during the later bar time law passage – should not be an increased campus concern.

“Most people walk, so there’s really no problem,” she said. “And the time won’t affect whether people will be driving anyways.”

Chris Burkauskas, a full-time bartender at Stub and Herb’s, said there would be more accidents if campus bars still closed at 1 a.m.

“If Ö it’s one o’clock and they want to continue drinking, they’ll get in their cars and drive downtown to get that extra half hour of shots in,” he said. “That would be more of a problem than anything that would happen here after one o’clock.”

He said for bartenders, the later closing was overdue.

“It makes us feel like we’re catching up with the rest of the nation,” Burkauskas said. “Besides, we’re college kids – we need the extra money.”

Managers at the Dinkytown McDonald’s said they are also

celebrating the later hours, staying busy until bar time.

“It’s absolutely great for business,” general manager Sue Rague said. “Business has definitely increased.”

McDonald’s is currently open until 2 a.m., but is waiting to get approval for a 3 a.m. closing time.

Rague said the late-night hours work smoothly because of the security already in place.

She also said she does not mind having to stay open later if it means more business, and anticipates a smooth process.

“The kids are great. They’re very cooperative. It’s all been real positive,” she said.

Customers also said they appreciate the extra hour of socializing, but said the bars should now focus on other tactics to increase revenue.

“If bars want more business they should do something about the parking problems, not add more hours,” University student and Sally’s patron Wonju Kim said. “You need to keep going to the meters every two hours Ö it can ruin your night.”

By Stephanie Kudrle

Bars in Dinkytown and Stadium Village can breathe a sigh of relief.

At a public hearing Wednesday, the Minneapolis City Council voted 4-1 to reject a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited new on-sale liquor licenses from being issued in Dinkytown and Stadium Village.

The proposal, drafted by Ward 2 council member Paul Zerby, would also have made current bar owners ineligible for license renewal in case of an ownership change.

The ordinance would address the problem of excessive student drinking on campus and make the surrounding neighborhoods more livable, Zerby said.

But bar owners and some Dinkytown residents said the restrictions would have been a violation of their rights as property owners.

Zerby had support from some neighborhood groups.

Council member Paul Ostrow, 1st Ward, said he applauded Zerby’s work but could not support the ordinance.

“I’m concerned about setting up different standards in different parts of the city,” Ostrow said.

Bar owners said they were satisfied with the vote.

Stadium Village Mall owner Celeste Shahiei told the council the proposal would scare away bars and restaurants wanting to lease space in her mall.

“What about my interests?” Shahiei said. “Aren’t we the public too?”

Several Dinkytown residents also opposed the ordinance.

“Night life is the defining aspect of this area,” Dinkytown resident Frederick Gotfredson said. “We cannot allow a minority of neighbors to destroy night life.”

Council member Barbara Johnson, 4th Ward, also disagreed with Zerby’s proposal. She said the number of bars was normal for a college campus area and is good for employment.

“We would be limiting the economic potential of those properties,” Johnson said. “Young people drinking is a huge concern, but limiting establishments won’t solve it.”

Other council members said restricting liquor licenses would not limit student drinking on campus.

Zerby, however, disagreed.

“The fact is we can’t solve all the problems,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

Back to top