Underage drinking locks up local bar

Among the signs advertising happy hour on the outer walls of Dinkytown’s newest nightclub is one that looks out of place: “Retail Space For Lease.”
The Gopher Hole at 412 1/2 14th Ave. SE closed its doors permanently Mar. 21 following a hearing earlier this month regarding more than 10 incidents of serving alcohol to minors and disorderly conduct outside the bar.
Minneapolis Police Sergeant Steve Persons said owner Chris Heacox was summoned to the hearing in front of the Public Safety Committee to address the issues. In a letter to the Minneapolis Police Licensing Department, Heacox volunteered to close The Gopher Hole after business hours the first Saturday of the University’s spring break.
Minneapolis Police Sergeant Greg Reinhardt, who said Heacox knew much of his clientele was underage, personally made one arrest at the bar.
“When we went in, about 30 people left,” Reinhardt said. “We saw two dozen people drinking that were obviously underage.”
Despite the bar’s reputation among students for serving minors, other Dinkytown business owners were shocked about the bar’s closing.
“I just found out about it the day after it happened. It came as a surprise to me,” said Skott Johnson, owner of Auto Graphics Printing.
The Gopher Hole closes in the wake of several other Dinkytown stores that have gone out of business. Most recently Gray’s Campus Drug and Nelson’s Office Supply ceased operations.
Dan Zielske, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said The Gopher Hole’s closing certainly doesn’t bode well for Dinkytown.
“We’re in the business of keeping businesses open, thriving and prosperous,” Zielske said. “We’re into keeping a good business climate.”
Zielske said The Gopher Hole wasn’t bad for business in Dinkytown and it attracted more than just University students because Heacox did citywide advertising.
“I think some things have been good for Dinkytown and some things have been bad for Dinkytown,” Zielske said.
The Gopher Hole had been open for six months, since Heacox signed the lease in August.