Mpls. Restaurant Owners Want Change in Rule to Sell Hard Liquor

October 10, 2018 06:24 PM

Up until a month ago, Gail Mollner and her partner owned the Blackbird Cafe in Minneapolis.

She said one big frustration throughout their 10-year run was not being able to sell cocktails.


"It's never been an option for us to be able to sell cocktails in this neighborhood because of the 7-acre rule," she said.

In a nutshell, many neighborhood restaurants outside of downtown cannot currently serve cocktails because of an outdated City of Minneapolis charter spacing requirement that requires them to be within 7 acres - the "7-acre rule." Minneapolis differentiates between a beer and wine license from a full liquor license.

For a restaurant not meeting the 7-acre requirement to get a full liquor license, they must lobby the state legislature for an exemption to the city charter. An exemption can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 and take up to a year-and-a-half to complete. After getting an exemption, a business must apply for a full liquor license.

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"The fear has been, does that mean you are going to open up additional liquor stores all over the city, and the answer is absolutely not," Minneapolis council member Linea Palmisano said.

Ten restaurants, four within the last legislative cycle, have applied for exemption, and there are several who are in the process currently.


  • Twenty-four "on-sale" liquor licenses have been approved by the legislature. Of those 24 licenses, 10 are restaurants, including a food hall approved in 2017.
  • An additional 12 food and wine licenses have been approved. Two restaurants are approved for those licenses.
  • Liquor licenses have also been approved for theaters, a museum and nonprofit organizations like the Shriners, American Association of University Women and Norway House.

And because this situation has to do with liquor, the state has a higher threshold, requiring 55 percent and not 51 percent yes votes. If voters decide to remove the 7-acre rule it would be effective Dec. 7.

"The expense versus the value of the license itself is one thing. But I think more important is making it an even playing field for everyone," restaurant owner Steven Joel Brown said.


Todd Wilson

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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