No late-night Mesa in Stadium Village

Mesa Pizza wants to get settled in the neighborhood before applying for a late-night license.

A Mesa Pizza staff member stands near Washington Avenue to draw more customers to the newly opened restaurant.  The new Mesa is currently open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, but they plan to apply for an extended hours license in order to be open as late as the location in Dinkytown.

Holly Peterson

A Mesa Pizza staff member stands near Washington Avenue to draw more customers to the newly opened restaurant. The new Mesa is currently open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, but they plan to apply for an extended hours license in order to be open as late as the location in Dinkytown.

Nicolas Hallett

Mesa Pizza opened its newest pizza-by-the-slice storefront in Stadium Village this month, but this location is without one of Mesa’s most popular allures — late-night hours.

For now, the new store, located in the Stadium Village Plaza between Burger King and Darque Tan, will hold off on applying for a city license to stay open late.

At first, Mesa Pizza was seeking an extended hours license for the new location as soon as possible, general manager Wade Owe said, but later decided to wait and prove itself to the neighborhood before applying.

City code keeps commercial residents from disturbing the neighborhood, Minneapolis Business Licenses Manager Grant Wilson said. The extended hours licensing process requires the business to send a notice to all neighbors within 350 feet, and then the City Council has to approve the license.

“Late-night hours do cause problems in some areas,” Wilson said. “You want to go in carefully, I think, and allow the neighbors to get to know you. The neighbors influence the policymakers who grant or deny the license.”

The Stadium Village store is the franchise’s second location near the University of Minnesota. Its third Minnesota-based restaurant is in Uptown.

The new storefront will serve as an express version of Mesa Pizza, Owe said, and isn’t intended to replace the Dinkytown location, which a proposed Doran Companies development could displace if the city approves the demolition permits. Mesa Pizza owner David Hathaway said the restaurant will find another location in Dinkytown if the Doran proposal goes through, and he said Mesa signed a “long-term” lease for the Stadium Village property.

“All the other stores are doing really well,” Hathaway said. “We kind of wanted to add another store somewhere, and we like the Minneapolis area and have a good reputation with students. So we figured, why not try Stadium Village?”

The pizza is the same as Mesa’s Dinkytown location, Owe said, but the Stadium Village branch is missing a few of its menu’s more “exotic” flavors, won’t offer delivery orders and stays open until 11 p.m. at the latest.

“We are going to try and keep it simple,” Owe said, “at least until we get more business and know we can support having the entire extra stuff.”

Architecture sophomore Trevor Kinnard, who lives nearby in Stadium View apartments, often visits Mesa’s Dinkytown location after midnight and said he’s upset the new location isn’t open late.

“It’s kind of disappointing that I have to walk all the way to Dinkytown to get a slice,” Kinnard said.

In the past, Prospect Park has attempted to limit the number of liquor licenses in the area in order to deter late-night parties and crime. Stores with extended hours affect how and when police monitor an area, Wilson said.

“That’s a city concern,” he said. “Generally, if it can be done safely and without problems, it’s pretty rare [the license] is denied.”

The city annually reviews the license, making it easier to revoke it from businesses that cause disturbances, Wilson said. Businesses usually receive the extended hours license about one month after applying, he said.

Senior civil engineering major Joe Totten said he’s enjoyed the new Mesa and stops in between classes.

“I hope they do well, and I hope they survive,” he said. “It’s good food.”

The Stadium Village area is growing with a wide array of incoming developments. Hundreds of student housing units are set to open in the coming years, Surly Brewing Co. is moving into nearby Prospect Park and Metro Transit’s Green Line will begin running June 14.

“I think that Stadium Village is starting to become one of the most happening places around campus,” Totten said, “especially if stuff like this is allowed to be open later.”

Hathaway said it took the Uptown store about three years to get its extended hours license after it opened in 2011.

“It was very frustrating for us,” he said. “It was very frustrating because we did a great job [meeting their requirements].”

Hathaway said the plan for the Stadium Village restaurant is to wait a couple of months or longer until Mesa proves it’s not going to cause any problems.

“We’re trying to just tow the line [and] do everything we’re supposed to do,” Owe said. “Then, as soon as we can, be open late.”