Wild Onion Bar Sues St. Paul Over Outdoor Liquor License

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The owner of the Wild Onion Bar and Grill on Grand Avenue has filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Paul.

“We feel we’re being discriminated against,” said Joseph Schaefer, co-owner of the Wild Onion.

Since 2009, the restaurant has been trying to get a liquor license for its patio. They’ve been denied after being granted temporary approval.

“We did everything they asked,” said Schaefer. “We passed the neighborhood council 15 to 3. We got approved by the legislative hearing officer. So we got all the approvals.”

At this point Schaefer’s restaurant can only serve liquor inside the restaurant. On their patio they can only serve food until dark or until 9:30 p.m. They want to be able to serve food and liquor together on the patio.

The city council denied the request saying they didn’t gather enough signatures from homeowners within 300 feet of the Wild Onion. The restaurant is required to get 60 percent of signatures and only got 35 percent.

“We gathered as many as everybody else,” said Schaefer. “Nobody gets 60 percent.”

The case has been taken out of Ramsey County and is now the U.S. District Court. Sara Grewing is St. Paul’s attorney.

“We know that the city council has a broad range of discretion in these sorts of cases,” said Grewing. “They acted clearly within that discretion and we believe a federal judge will agree.”

Grewing said basically the city council can deny someone if they want to, as long as they’re abiding by basic constitutional principles.

“We try to be a good neighbor for nothing,” said Schaefer.

Schaefer said they’ve made improvements to their patio by adding sound reducing panels to their smoking area. He also doesn’t have televisions or speakers on the patio. Around the bar are signs that say “please be respectful of our neighbors.”

“Every night we take decibel readings so we’re in compliance,” said Schaefer.

The lawsuit is against the City ofSt. Pauland Councilman David Thune. It also includes a minimum of $50,000 in damages.

“We want to be able to compete in a level playing field,” said Schaefer.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Edgar Linares Reports

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