Beer and Wine at Lake Harriet? It's Up for Debate

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the April 2, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal just before the April 3 meeting. Don’t know how we missed getting it up sooner…

Beer and wine at Lake Harriet? It’s up for debate

Two years after opening near the shores of Lake Harriet, the Bartmann sisters want to start serving beer and wine at their Bread & Pickle food stand.

To make space for a half-dozen local brews and several wine options, Kim and Kari want to spend $100,000 or more upgrading the refectory, a project that includes raising a beer cooler above the breezeway and hoisting kegs up there.

There’s clearly support from the city to give Bread & Pickle a beer and wine permit, but the two sides are in disagreement over how large of a seating area the Bartmanns should have.

Originally, Bread & Pickle wanted to allow patrons to take beer and wine to the nearby band shell, where patrons could listen to live music or watch movies, Kim Bartmann said. But the city made it clear it’s not going to allow that, she said.

“I gave up on that discussion quite a while ago,” she said.

Bartmann has scaled back her request to about 150 seats that wrap around the south and east sides of the concessions stand (see maps below). That would be smaller than a similar vendor, Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun, which seats 245 and sells wine and beer.

The city, however, has proposed a much smaller area. A map shows a small semi-circle around the south doors of the refectory with room for just a few tables.

“If it’s only the smaller area, I won’t do it. It’s not going to happen. I am willing to compromise on some of that area, but if it’s just that small area that’s drawn, it’s not happening,” she said. “There’s no reason for it to be that small, and no one will be happy.”

Here’s where Bartmann and the city don’t see eye-to-eye. Business Licensing Manager Grant Wilson cited Minnesota statute 340A.410, which says, “A licensing authority may issue a retail alcoholic beverage license only for a space that is compact and contiguous.”

“The service area must be compact and contiguous, meaning that your servers kind of have some kind of control over where (alcohol) can be,” Wilson said.

Bartmann argues that her proposal is compact and contiguous, and no larger than similar Minneapolis venues like Tin Fish and Sea Salt.

Here’s where things get tricky, because the city, according to Tin Fish owners Sheffield and Athena Priest, require their staff to be responsible for stopping people from leaving their area with alcohol, and they don’t have concerts just a stone’s throw away.

“This one just doesn’t fit very well, because I don’t believe we have another on-sale beverage alcohol place that the public can intermingle with people where she wouldn’t have control over what they do,” Wilson said.

Bartmann will be required to post signs telling patrons not take alcohol out of the designated area. She’ll also have to add some time of landscaping to mark the zone, such as planters.

Bartmann stressed that people who aren’t drinking or eating will still be welcome in the area.
The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council ha sent a letter of support to the city of Minneapolis after meeting with Bartmann. The neighborhood board supports a beer and wine license for Bread & Pickle.

On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Park Board will hold a discussion on the proposal. The Park Board does not have authority over beer and wine licenses, but it could make a recommendation to the city.