Schiff: Ordinance change for Uptown brewery ‘worth looking into’

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August 20, 2012 by Sarah M

By Nick Halter

Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff today said a licensing change that would allow a microbrewery to open a taproom and sell growlers near a school is “worth looking into.”

Schiff said he has talked to the owners of Pryes Brewing Company, who want to open a brewery at West 25th Street and Hennepin Avenue South. They are the ones who released a voicemail sent to them by Council Member Meg Tuthill a month ago. In the voicemail, Tuthill said neither she nor her colleagues would change a city ordinance for one business.

Schiff, as you may recall, authored the “Brew Beer Here” ordinance two years ago that allowed microbreweries to begin serving growlers. It has opened the door for several new breweries to open in Minneapolis.

Schiff said a possible solution for Pryes would be for the city to change its licensing to allow for malt liquor sales near a school, but continue to restrict full liquor stores from being opened near school. That’s essentially what the City Council changed last spring, only instead of schools, the city changed its laws to allow malt liquor to be sold near churches.

“I think it’s worth looking at,” Schiff said. “I think there’s a big difference between a liquor store that attracts panhandlers being located near a school and a microbrewery that is only open after school hours and attracts a clientele that is willing to pay premium price for a locally crafted beer.”

Schiff noted that the Pryes owners have offered to keep their taproom closed during school hours. Their proposed location is across the street from Jefferson Community School.

Schiff said he still has to consult the city attorney’s office and his colleagues before he could introduce any changes.

“I firmly believe in cutting regulation that chokes business development,” he said. “We wouldn’t have pedicabs in downtown Minneapolis today if I didn’t rewrite our rules in order to help start the pedicab industry. We didn’t have beer brewed in Minneapolis by microbreweries until two years ago when I changed licensing rules to allow microbreweries to open. So I think some of the most important work we can do in the city right now is cut regulation that kill jobs.”

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4 thoughts on “Schiff: Ordinance change for Uptown brewery ‘worth looking into’

  1. Sam Woodman says:

    Good to hear there’s still a chance for progress, in the face of that appalling voicemail from NIMBY-in-chief Meg Tuthill.

    • Steven Prince says:

      I live two blocks away, and I don’t consider this progress. Jefferson school has after-school and community education every night, until after 8pm. The school serves primarily low-income and immigrant families, and one way you get those families to attend family night and other parent events is by having supervised playtime for their kids on the playground while the parents meet inside. The playground is right in front of the proposed brew-pub. Do we really need to rewrite a low that requires the brew pub to be 300′ away from the playground? Why? Let them find a location that satisfies the law, and let the school do its already difficult job without having to contend with drunks and empty beer bottles.

      • Anders says:

        The playground is at a lower grade and across four traffic lanes and two parking lanes from the spot in question — on one of the busiest streets in all of Minneapolis. In any case, they can open in the site without reworking any ordinances, but would not be able to sell growlers (64oz containers that you take home), which are a key pillar of the microbrewery business model. Regarding livability: since taprooms can only sell their own product, it wouldn’t be in bottles — patrons would be buying pints, served in glasses, consumed on-site and indoors, so no empties across the street in the fenced-off playground. And I don’t know if you’ve been to any of the taprooms around town right now (e.g. Fulton, Harriet, or Indeed), but the atmosphere isn’t really conducive to public drunkenness. It’s a brewery, not a dive bar, and I suspect the data show fewer police calls to the taprooms than to many “regular” restaurants and bars.

        Council Member Schiff appears to be suggesting that microbreweries ought not be regulated as liquor stores, as they are engaged in very different types of commerce. Speaking as a resident who lives a block and a half from the proposed microbrewery, I think it’s a superb idea. This is a chance to fill a vacant storefront, serve a currently unfilled niche in Uptown, and hey, fix an illogical ordinance while we’re at it. Cheers!

  2. Steven Prince says:

    Actually, I don’t think they can do on or off-site alcohol sales at the proposed location. See my explanation at: https://southwestjournal.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/owners-of-prospective-brewery-near-uptown-identify-themselves/

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