Sunday bar ban is bad business

North St. Paul must end a law that would close some bars on Sundays.

Yesterday, the North St. Paul City Council reviewed a long forgotten liquor ordinance. The ordinance, which has been on the books for years but is rarely enforced, states that in order for any bar in the city to be open Sundays it must be considered a restaurant. This means the establishment must provide seating for at least 100 guests in a room separate from the bar area and employ at least 15 full-time workers including two cooks. The ordinance has owners in an uproar, and rightfully so.

The law simply makes no sense. If enforced, at least nine bars, a church and one charity would be forced to hand over their Sunday liquor licenses by July 1. Sunday is a crucial business day for most bars and many in the city are worried they might be shut down completely. One owner told City Pages he would lose 17 percent of his revenue if he were forced to close on Sundays.

Enforcing the law is bad business for the city itself. Not only will North St. Paul lose money from sales tax and potentially lose several small businesses, its City Council and Police Department will also be recognized as time-wasters.

That city officials didnâÄôt even know the law existed âÄî police Chief Tom Lauth found it by accident while reviewing a case for a liquor license âÄî already sheds a bad light on the city. Currently, there is talk about reworking the ordinance so the seating requirement would be reduced to 30, but many establishments would still have to close on Sundays. The city should admit the law is not only pointless but harmful, enlist the help of the state legislature to change the restaurant requirement and, by doing so, show support for its small businesses.