St. Paul liquor law change needed

Restaurants in St. Paul could soon be free to operate under looser alcohol restrictions. Two proposed changes to city law would eliminate the “60-40 rule” and increase the number of restaurants permitted to serve hard liquor.

The 60-40 rule requires restaurants to derive 60 percent of their sales from food and non-alcoholic beverages, while only 40 percent can come from alcohol. However, some restaurant owners say today’s pricing standards make it difficult to abide by that requirement.

When the 60-40 rule first took effect, alcohol prices were relatively lower than they are today — now, a single drink can cost nearly as much as an entree. As a result, customers who buy multiple drinks with their meal can jeopardize restaurants’ sales ratios.

The St. Paul City Council has scheduled a hearing to discuss abolishing the 60-40 rule. It will meet on Dec. 2.

A second proposed change would eliminate restrictions that cap the number of restaurants allowed to serve hard liquor. Downtown St. Paul currently has no cap, but the city’s other wards have caps as low as seven restaurants.

If the changes take effect, the city would likely increase the accessibility of hard liquor around the Midway soccer stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2018.

We are in favor of changing St. Paul’s liquor laws. The 60-40 rule, in particular, places an over-idealistic restriction on business’ ability to operate freely. Additionally, liquor sales around the new soccer stadium could help the local economy thrive.