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Mpls. Voters To Decide Fate Of 70/30 Law

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis voters will now have a say on a controversial liquor law in the city.

In November, voters will decide on whether or not to repeal the 70/30 law.

The 1997 city charter amendment was originally put in place to try to prevent restaurants that sold liquor from becoming neighborhood trouble spots. Today, some restaurant owners feel the rule is outdated.

“It’s difficult to comply with,” said Pat’s Tap owner Kim Bartmann.

She says the restaurants technically shouldn’t serve customers coming in “just for drinks” under the rule.

“When people are told that their neighborhood restaurants have to try to comply with this rule they think it’s kind of silly,” she said.

Gail Mollner, who owns Blackbird Café in south Minneapolis, used a recent breakfast bill as an example of how the rule is challenging. A receipt showed two customers ordered the flapjacks and the biscuits, but with their two mimosas they were already over the thirty-percent liquor sale maximum.

“We have it a little easier because we serve breakfast and lunch,” Mollner said. “If we relied on dinner-only crowd, it would be tough.”

Mark van Wie was under a 60/40 license when he opened the Pig and Fiddle in Minneapolis in 2011. After a year of trying to comply by the rule, he decided to get a full liquor license.

“It’s virtually impossible, I don’t see any way we would’ve been able to stay within that ratio,” van Wie said. “They need to regulate restaurants in a different way.”

Making the rule trickier is the city’s homegrown trend – the explosion of craft beers, which are often pricier. The Pig and Fiddle keeps 36 on tap.

“It’s not that people are getting more intoxicated or that they’re ordering more alcohol, it’s that they’re better beverages,” Mollner said.

Some Minneapolis City Council members are exploring the use of different regulations than a food-to-alcohol ratio to monitor the restaurants.

Voters will decide whether to roll back the 70/30 rule on Nov. 4.

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