Not so fast: City's extension of hours for growler sales is actually illegal
Members of the Rochester City Council thought they were making a compromise — but it turns out that their vote earlier this week to extend off-sale hours for only local breweries is actually in violation of Minnesota law.
Council members were notified of the mistake in a memo sent out Friday by City Clerk Aaron Reeves. "State statute requires that the growler sale hours must match the off-sale hours of regular liquor stores," he wrote.
On Wednesday, the council approved an ordinance that allows microbreweries and brewpubs to sell packaged beer until 10 p.m. seven days a week. The unanimous vote was a compromise between brewery owners, who spoke up for extending hours, and liquor store owners, who opposed any change to the current ordinance.
Rochester is one of just a few municipalities in the state with additional restrictions on off-sale liquor sales. State law allows liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m Monday through Saturday.
However, Rochester's ordinance requires stores to close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 p.m. on Friday; and 10 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday sales are limited to growlers and diluted 3.2 percent beer.
Representatives from Joe's Liquor and Apollo Liquor requested that the council not make any changes to the ordinance. Apollo said extending the hours would create additional safety concerns for employees and customers. And though stores would not be forced by law to stay open later, they said some lease agreements with large shopping centers would require them to do so.
Owners of Kinney Creek Brewery and LTS Brewing Company spoke up in favor of dumping the city ordinance, arguing later sales of growlers and other packaged beer could provide a boost to their businesses.
The council will revisit the issue at a meeting on Sept. 21.
Its two youngest members, Michael Wojcik and Nick Campion, voiced their support at Wednesday's meeting for removing all restrictions. Others on the council, including Ed Hruska and Mark Bilderback, only favored language that extended hours for tap rooms and brewpubs.
About Sean Baker: Sean is the founder and editor of the Med City Beat. Under his direction, the site has transitioned from a small news blog to one of the most widely-read publications in the city. Prior to launching the site in 2014, Sean spent about two years producing television news in Green Bay and Rochester. His office is above a brewery, so please excuse any typos. Twitter.
(Cover photo: File / CC)