By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An amendment on the November ballot in Minneapolis could affect options for alcohol at dozens of local restaurants.

Several restaurant owners are pushing for Minneapolis residents to vote yes on an initiative that would throw out a decades-old liquor restriction.

The current charter only allows restaurants within a 7-acre area of commercial businesses to serve hard alcohol.

Kate Raddatz explains why changing the rule could change what you see on the menu.

It is dinner time at The Lowbrow on Nicollet Avenue, as diners grab a beer or glass of wine. It’s their only option here, legally.

“They did this in the old days because they wanted no alcohol in the middle of neighborhoods,” said Heather Bray, owner of The Lowbrow.

Many of those neighborhoods are now peppered with popular restaurants.

The Lowbrow is one of around 75 that are outside the city’s 7-acre rule, meaning there’s not enough commercial space around them. Restaurant owners can get around it, but they have to lobby to the state.

For example, at 38th and Nicollet, you can find cocktails at Nighthawks, but just across the street at Kyatchi or Cocina Latina, you can’t.

Niki Stavrou has owned Victor’s 1959 Cafe since it opened nearly 20 years ago. She says changing the charter would level the playing field in a competitive business.

“It doesn’t mean that all the places will apply for a liquor license, but that they will have the option,” Stavrou said.

In order for the charter to change, the amendment has to pass with 55 percent approval. Even if it does pass, it will not change the standards that restaurants have to adhere to in order to hold a liquor license.

Minnesotans have been willing to change old liquor laws in recent years.

Just four years ago, Minneapolis voters successfully changed the food-to-alcohol ratio for restaurants. The state also legalized Sunday liquor sales just last year.

Kate Raddatz