Liquor rules may loosen

Bartender Vanessa Smith sells a growler of beer to a customer at Town Hall Brewery on Monday. On June 5 the city council will vote on possible changes that would allow the sale of growlers on Sundays at breweries and taprooms, as well as changing the time for Sunday sales from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Juliet Farmer

Bartender Vanessa Smith sells a growler of beer to a customer at Town Hall Brewery on Monday. On June 5 the city council will vote on possible changes that would allow the sale of growlers on Sundays at breweries and taprooms, as well as changing the time for Sunday sales from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Benjamin Farniok

It may soon get easier for Minneapolitans to order Bloody Marys or jugs of beer to complement early Sunday breakfast.
 
A Minneapolis City Council committee unanimously passed two proposed amendments to its liquor laws last month that would allow restaurants to sell liquor at 8 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. on Sundays, and permit city breweries to use the first day of the week to vend growlers — large bottles of beer customers can take home.
 
The amendments are likely to pass at a full council vote Friday.
 
The changes, which  could increase Sunday sales for breweries but are unlikely to have a major effect for restaurants, would align city ordinances with similar amendments to liquor laws at the state level.
 
Town Hall Brewery, located near the University of Minnesota’s West Bank campus, has been unable to sell growlers on Sundays since it opened, but the amendments would remove that constraint.
 
Owner Pete Rifakes said he looks forward to the extra profit the change could cause.
 
“I think it’s great for our business. We have inquiries every Sunday on whether or not people can buy growlers,” he said, adding that about 7 percent of the brewery’s profits stem from growler sales.
 
The amendment presents an opportunity to share the business’ product with tourists, Rifakes said, since visitors might stray from buying growlers if the purchase would mean buying them on Saturday and carrying them around for the weekend.
 
Ward 1 City Councilman Kevin Reich, a co-author of the growler amendment, said a number of breweries in Minneapolis support the change.
 
“Listening to these people, these entrepreneurs … they said this is an important part of sharing their product and creating community around what they make,” he said, adding that the revenue generated from growlers is important for local brewery startups.
 
Rifakes said he hopes that this change will lead to further opportunities for breweries in Minneapolis, like allowing them to distribute outside of their home locations.
 
“Our laws are going to have to evolve and change so we can compete with brewers in other states. If we don’t, we won’t compete,” he said.
 
The other amendment could help those looking to purchase liquor while out to brunch, said Ward 3 City Councilman Jacob Frey, who co-authored the proposal.
 
Frey said the change is meant to remove a useless limit for people grabbing a bite before 10 a.m.
 
“What was happening was that someone was going in there at 9:30 and ordering a Bloody Mary but have to wait the additional 30 minutes,” he said. “They’re going to get it eventually, so what’s the point [of the restriction]?”
 
Many local restaurants were interested in the change, Frey said, but the amendment is not likely to impact profits for the restaurants.
 
Both Frey and Reich said they expect the changes to become law at Friday’s City Council meeting.