By Mike Binkley, WCCO-TV

WAYZATA, Minn. (WCCO) — Raising taxes is not a popular political move, but cities have to pay for their services somehow. What if they sold burgers and booze to help pave the streets and maintain the parks?

The city of Wayzata has been doing that for 64 years, at Wayzata Bar and Grill, better known as “The Muni.”

For each bottle of wine, beer or liquor that customers drink — or each flame-grilled burger they eat –- more money goes into the city’s general fund.

“I try to drink as much beer as I can,” said Gary Yanish, one of the regulars.

It’s a bar, restaurant and liquor store under one roof.  Combined, they clear about $250,000 each year for public works projects in Wayzata.  That takes care of nearly 9 percent of the city’s budget.

“We’re the only restaurant that’s a municipal, left in the Twin Cities,” said General Manager Gina Holman.

It has a regular cast of characters who show up three or four times a week.

“You always just know somebody,” said Mary Fenske. “You can come here by yourself and you’ll know five people.”

Greg Rye calls The Muni his “office,” since he often hosts two business lunches a day there.

“I can be sitting in this booth,” he said, “and I can look across the room and see the guy that dry cleans my shirts and I can look down the road and see the mayor and I can look across the bar and see my banker, my accountant or my financial planner.”

With the municipal liquor store attached, it essentially gives the restaurant one of the largest wine lists around.

“We’ll get a bottle of wine and bring it over here,” said Judy Higgins, “and they just charge you the $5 corking fee.”

The Muni’s days are numbered, though, at its current location. The entire block is about to be leveled for a new housing, hotel and retail complex.

But The Muni isn’t going far. In fact, it’s going just across the street to a new facility. After last call at the end of this month, a parade of regulars will help them make the move.

“I’ve planned on it,” said Barbara Lelek. “I mean we’ve got it on our calendar. We’re definitely going.”

Eventually, the city of Wayzata hopes the new “Muni” will pull in twice as much revenue for its general fund.

The big move takes place on Thursday, April 28.

Comments (6)
  1. Fun Guy says:

    Are the workers government workers? What happens if they get pulled into court for overserving, is the taxpayer liable?

    Not really well written by this journalist. Lots of questions weren’t asked

  2. Alan says:

    City of St. Francis used to have a muni, now I believe it is private. Something about too many DUI. All well and good for cities to provide a service that returns money to the taxpayer like the community centers, but a bar/restaurant could also be bad as a new business. See the local newspapers for closings of establishments

  3. Sam I Am. says:

    New Brighton had one for a while. But was closed down due to potential libability reasons. The muni did contribute to the budget of New Brighton.

  4. L.D. Wendlandt says:

    A walk down memory lane. I’m from the small southeastern Minnesota town of Houston. In 1957 the only place you could buy liquor was the Municipal liquor store. In addition to this was 3 bar/ restaurants, one served only beer the other two served beer and wine. Visited for the first time in about thirty years.Not much of the town left as I knew it. The sawmills at each end of town were gone, main street had changed dramatically as had the resident’s.
    What a great place to grow up for a kid thou, running free in the hills, creeks,fishing and throwing rocks.

  5. tommy b says:

    There is no way local government should be running a bar and restaurant. If it’s so good why not open a gas station or some other business. How do you think other restaurants in town like having to compete against a city run biz that doesn’t pay property taxes or has free advertising paid for by taxpayers.

    Stick with fixing the roads and providing police and fire protection.