U-area bar close time remains uncertain

The Minneapolis City Council will decide if – and which – bars can serve until 2 a.m.

Branden Peterson

Despite the hopes of University-area bar owners, last call might not come later after all.

The Minneapolis City Council will soon determine if it will allow bars and restaurants in the city to serve alcohol until 2 a.m., one hour later than is currently allowed.

According to a new state law, city governments can choose whether to extend the operating hours.

But at least two City Council members said they are unsure whether to support a new bar closing time in the Dinkytown, Stadium Village, Cedar-Riverside and Seven Corners neighborhoods.

“The impetus for this was our downtown business vitality,” said City Council President Paul Ostrow, 1st Ward. “It’s absolutely critical that we move ahead of this for downtown.”

Other City Council members said the change would benefit downtown Minneapolis, but many are skeptical whether it would positively affect other neighborhoods.

City Council member Paul Zerby, 2nd Ward, which includes some University neighborhoods, said he does not believe campus neighborhoods will benefit from allowing area bars to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

“Both Stadium Village and Dinkytown are close to the (residential) neighborhoods,” he said. “I want (bars) to prosper and be competitive, but I don’t think we should increase the bar hours to 2 a.m.”

Zerby said he needs to speak with community and business officials to learn what is best for the area. In the meantime, he will not support allowing the area’s bars to remain open past 1 a.m.

When college campuses have developed a culture known for irresponsible drinking habits, allowing bars to serve alcohol longer does not make sense, Zerby said.

“It would take a lot to convince me,” he said.

City Council member Lisa Goodman, 7th Ward, is preparing a resolution for a city-wide 2 a.m. bar closing time. She was unavailable for comment Friday.

Former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, now a senior fellow at the University’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said although she has not viewed the specifics of the law, choosing specific areas of the city to benefit from legislation has happened before.

Sayles Belton said City Council members will likely make a decision about extending bar hours around the University based on past alcohol-related incidents, such as the men’s hockey riots.

“I think for the University, unfortunately, some of the more recent events Ö where the overuse of alcohol was believed to be a factor, will contribute to the decision of the council,” Sayles Belton said.

She said allowing bars to extend hours was “in response to the expansion of the hospitality industry” and not for expanding “recreational opportunities” for residents.

U-area bars want support

Bars outside the downtown area are hoping to bank in on the new law, which was designed to attract more business downtown and fund more state troopers on the highways.

University-area bar owners in Dinkytown, Stadium Village and Seven Corners are still determining if a 2 a.m. close is right for their business.

Several owners said a later bar time around the University area will not impact how students act socially.

“I don’t think it’s going to add any more to what a person consumes in one night. You just start later,” said Steve Mularky, owner of Sergeant Preston’s in Seven Corners.

Linda Pattersen, co-owner of Bobby Z’s in Dinkytown, said her business will be disappointed if they are not able to stay open later.

“We’re responsible people, and that’s the way we run our business,” she said. “We’re heavy supporters of ‘U’ of ‘M’ activities, and I believe it would keep people in this area. I think it would be tremendous (to stay open until 2 a.m.).”

Sue Jeffers, owner of Stub & Herb’s in Stadium Village, has voiced her frustration over the City Council possibly not allowing her business to stay open to 2 a.m. She said she has written letters and called council members.

“We get a lot of convention people, or people that come from the Twins, the Vikings and the Gophers – it’s just so wrong that we can’t have the same opportunity as others do,” she said.

Rick Tice is not sure his business, Dubs Pub & Grill Dinkytown, will change to 2 a.m. if allowed. Yet Tice says he hopes bars, and not the city, determine which businesses can stay open later.

“I just think it should be the same for everybody,” he said.

Public hearing

A public hearing will be held at a Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Officials expect advocates and critics of the 2 a.m. bar closing time to attend, who will hear council members’ plans for implementation.

Branden Peterson welcomes comments at [email protected]