ST. PAUL (WCCO) — The grill in Tin Cup’s kitchen is always busy. In fact, their grill recently produced two one-pound burgers for the cable TV show “Man Vs. Food.”
But on a Sunday in October, near some small tents in front of the bar, hot dogs were cooking on a backyard grill.
You don’t need a permit to grill hot dogs at your home, but you do need a permit to grill them outside a bar in St. Paul. The owners of Tin Cup’s bar learned that the hard way, and had to pay a $500 fine.
“I think it’s a little stiff for a first-time offence, especially if you try to do everything that they did, and try to do it right,” said customer Tom Kapaun. “Maybe the City Council is mad they weren’t invited.”
The hot dogs were being grilled to give away, not to sell, but in the end that didn’t matter.
“We gave them away free, nobody had to purchase anything in order to get a free hot dog,” said Tin Cup’s co-owner Gidget Bailey.
The law says restaurants can’t give away food they make in their kitchens, so that’s why the hot dogs were cooked outside. The owners say they had asked the state health department about the grilling, but not the city.
“They told me there was no fire zone out there, so I was OK there,” said Bailey. “Was I going to be serving them outside? I said, ‘No, I would be bringing them inside for the patrons to eat inside.’ And they said then I did not have to pull a special event permit.”
The city ruled, however, that a special permit was needed. But now that the fine is paid, Tin Cup’s owners have had T-shirts made, poking fun at the whole ordeal. The shirts read: “Got a permit for that weiner?”
“You have to have a sense of humor about it. It would drive you crazy if you took it too seriously,” said co-owner Joan Knippenberg.