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Toby Keith's Still Short of City Liquor Mark

The St. Louis Park bar and grill is not selling as much food as liquor.

in St. Louis Park is getting closer to hitting the city’s required 50-50 split between alcohol and food sales, but the establishment will likely go back on probation for not quite getting there yet.

The bar and grill was last February, and that probation was in October. With Toby Keith's liquor license up for renewal this month, City Council members said Monday during a study session that they've seen enough progress to grant the license, but not enough to remove the probationary tag. The issue will be up for a formal vote next week.

Toby Keith's was at 32 percent food sales when the problem first arose a year ago, but had that number up near 49 percent at the end of 2011.

"We're here to cooperate," said Toby Keith's general manager Matt Sutton. "You'll never hear an argument from me or my staff."

Since 2000, St. Louis Park has required a 50-50 split between food and liquor sales, which is similar to ordinances in nearby Hopkins, Minnetonka and Edina, the latter of which actually requires establishments earn at least 60 percent of their revenue from food. Council members have said the provision keeps St. Louis Park from having unruly “bar districts.”

The city can enforce fines of up to $2,000—or even suspend an establishment's liquor license—for non-compliance, but to date, the city has not used these more severe measures. Council members Anne Mavity and Sue Sanger both expressed some interest in fining Toby Keith's if it doesn't hit the 50-50 mark, but nothing has been finalized.

The also missed the 50-50 mark—by .2 percent. Owner Phil Weber said it was an accounting "snafu" that resulted when bowling lane food sales did not count toward the overall food mark. Weber said he admittedly didn't pay too much attention to it and would be willing to go on probation if that's what the city decided, though he can submit corrected numbers if he chooses. The bar and grill was not previously on probation, and Weber said he's confident he can meet the 50-50 standard in the future.

What Do Other Cities Do?

Here is a look at how some other metro area cities handle the split between food and liquor sales:

City % Food (min) % Liquor (max) Blaine - - Bloomington 40 60 Brooklyn Center 50 50 Brooklyn Park - - Eagan 50 50 Eden Prairie 50 50 Edina 60 40 Golden Valley - - Hopkins 50 50 Maple Grove 51 49 Minnetonka 50 50 New Hope 50 50 Plymouth 40 60 St. Louis Park 50 50 Woodbury 50 50

Source: City of St. Louis Park

Dean Ritzman February 14, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Another pure example of government overreaching, especially again by SLP City Council, which in this case will harm a decent source of business tax base.
Michael Rose February 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Dean, would you personally support something like Bloomington and Plymouth have (a 40-60 split—see above), or would you want no requirement at all?
Emily B February 14, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I agree with Dean about the overreach in this situation. Though I am not opposed to some regulation (Michael, I would support a split like the ones you mentioned), but seriously folks, this is not downtown Mpls. I get wanting to reduce "unruly" bar crowds, but even Park Tavern, which ALWAYS has a full parking lot, never creates this problem. I should know, I live across the street! I think from many perspectives, making SLP an appealing place for more restaurants/bars would be really great. Parking stinks in Minneapolis and it is so great to have places like PT or Cooper to go to and not have to drive far. If the city is concerned about new establishments in certain areas, I am sure other zoning rules can take care of it, but this 50/50 rule is just arcane (like so many other alcohol laws in MN as a whole).
Dean Ritzman February 14, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Michael, I do not see the need for such an arbitrary requirement that is more than likely capriciously enforced. Whether it is federal law & regulations, state statute & rules or municipal codes & ordinances; government bodies always seem to get caught in the philosophy and the mandate practices of protective paternalism. The expressed parameters in this article probably do nothing to curb public intoxication or deter bars from over-serving patrons. Individual and corporate responsibility does that along with knowledge of liability and sanctioning consequences for such reckless conduct.

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