Pasta bar given license to dance

The Loring Pasta Bar upgraded its liquor license to allow for dancing with dinner.

by Charley Bruce

The Loring Pasta Bar upgraded its liquor license, but the move was not a graceful tango at city hall.

The Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution Friday to upgrade the liquor license at the restaurant and bar, despite disagreement among Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee members over contract language.

After debating the wording for more than 15 minutes, the committee decided to postpone passage until the resolution could be reworded. But at the city council meeting one week later, Councilwoman Diane Hofstede, Ward 3, moved to pass the amendment without further consideration. The measure passed.

Conditions in the liquor license application stating “any substantial change to the entertainment venue (including, but not limited to the music style) requires the approval of the city of Minneapolis” caused the controversy.

Jason McLean, owner of Loring Pasta Bar, said he wanted to upgrade from a C-1 liquor license to class B following successful salsa nights over the last year and a half.

Dancing at the establishment – which, on select nights, has live music – is against city ordinance without a class B license.

“(The council) wanted to make sure the Loring Pasta Bar wouldn’t be changing its spots and becoming some kind of night club beast that may have a big impact on the neighborhood,” McLean said.

Hofstede said the language in the license is part of Loring Pasta Bar’s business plan with the city.

Loring Pasta Bar violated its business plan by allowing dancing on salsa night, she said at the committee meeting a week before the council’s decision.

Hofstede said Loring Pasta Bar will be complying with the business plan by upgrading its liquor license. She also argued at the committee meeting the business could negatively impact a nearby residential area.

Ricardo Cervantes, deputy director of licenses and consumer services, said liquor licenses for places like Loring Pasta Bar have extensive business plans.

The plans outline how services will be provided and if an establishment is going to stay open or play music later, the city would like to know about it, he said.

Cervantes said a three-piece classical group playing with dinner would not present much of issue. But “techno dance music” until 2 a.m. might require different security provisions.

Councilman Cam Gordon, Ward 2, said he had concerns at the Public Safety and Regulatory Services meeting because the contract language seemed vague.

The language was open to “suspicious interpretations” that could seem like the city is regulating a particular kind of music or people who listen to certain types of music, Gordon said at the committee meeting.

Gordon later said he believed the city is trying to allow Loring Pasta Bar patrons to dance, but not have the restaurant become a full-fledged nightclub.

Another part of the business plan was to keep sound from emanating outside the business, and they can’t receive more than two noise violations. McLean said the restaurant has yet to receive one.

Police records dating back to January 2005 show the police have been called to Loring Pasta Bar 15 times, but never for a noise violation.

Most of the calls were for parking violations. There were also calls for damaged property, personal robbery and to have unwanted people removed.