Downtown bar owners want 2 a.m. closing to be citywide

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June 16, 2003 // UPDATED 10:51 am - April 30, 2007
By: Ellen Nigon
Ellen Nigon

Despite increased competition, public safety cited

When the state passed legislation allowing bars to be open until 2 a.m., they gave cities the authority to allow the later closing time. On Tuesday, June 17, the Minneapolis City Council\'s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee will hear from the public about whether the city\'s bar closing time should be extended until 2 a.m. - and if the extension should be limited to Downtown.

Counterintuitively, many Downtown bar and restaurant owners say the 2 a.m. close should not be limited to their area. At a recent meeting of the Warehouse District Business Association (a business group primarily made up of bar and restaurant owners) most said they wanted 2 a.m. bar closings citywide.

Dario Anselmo, owner of the Fine Line Music Caf, 318 1st Ave. N., said extending 2 a.m. closing times throughout the city is a public safety issue.

\"People would maybe think a monopoly would be a good thing for (bar owners Downtown). But with safety, what could happen if people are driving [from a neighborhood with 1 a.m. bar close] to Downtown?\" Anselmo said. \"If Minneapolis is going to be looked at as a major convention destination city, people who book conventions may say [2 a.m. closing] is great in Downtown, but what about the other parts of the city?\"

\"I\'m in favor of later bar hours all over the city,\" John Rimarcik, owner of the North Loop\'s Monte Carlo, Caf Havana and other Minneapolis restaurants, said. \"It would be ridiculous, troubling and confusing to neighbors and visitors to find that rules vary by block. Where does it begin and where does it end?\"

Two councilmembers with Downtown precincts disagree on whether a 2 a.m. bar close should be limited to a designated part of the city.

Councilmember Paul Zerby (2nd Ward) is opposed to a 2 a.m. bar close in his University of Minnesota Dinkytown neighborhood, in the wake of riots there following the Minnesota Gopher hockey team\'s national championship.

\"I\'m not necessarily saying I\'d like to just limit [2 a.m. close] to Downtown. It may be we can work out something that would recognize an entertainment district that maybe would go across the river to Northeast and maybe pick up Uptown,\" Zerby said. \"As for Dinkytown ... the University of Minnesota is trying to change the way that we all look at college students and binge drinking. [A 2 a.m. bar close] would go contrary to what the University is trying to do.\"

Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) does not believe that a 2 a.m. bar close should be distributed piece-meal around the city.

\"Half of the argument we made at the legislature was that because of the non-uniformity between states we were getting people crossing the border to drink,\" said Goodman, who represents the Central Business District, Loring Park and Elliot Park. \"It\'s the same thing in Minneapolis. I don\'t think we want to have a situation where people come into Downtown to be able to drink when the bar that they like to drink at is closed.\"

Goodman also pointed out that just because bars and restaurants can extend their hours does not mean that they will.

\"The law is not going to result in all sorts of restaurant owners with wine and beer licenses choosing to stay open until 2:00. Most of these neighborhood bars are not even open until 1:00 now,\" Goodman said.

Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward), whose ward includes most of the Downtown bars, could not be reached for comment.

Goodman is the only other councilmember with more than 10 percent of her ward in Downtown. Other councilmembers may be more interested in how a later bar time will affect traffic and noise in neighborhood nodes with bars.