Voters will decide the fate of 70/30 alcohol sales rule

The 70/30 rule restricting Minneapolis neighborhood alcohol sales may soon be forgotten.
The 70/30 rule restricting Minneapolis neighborhood alcohol sales may soon be forgotten.

Minneapolis restaurateurs have passed the first hurdle in eliminating an onerous alcohol sales restriction, as the future of the 70/30 rule will be decided by voters in the city's upcoming November elections.

The 70/30 rule, put into effect in 1997, requires that Minneapolis restaurants in residential areas earn the bulk of their revenue from selling food -- at least 70 percent from food sales and no more than 30 percent from alcohol (more specifically, beer and wine) sales.

Back in February, restaurants including Broder's Pasta Bar, Tilia, and Turtle Bread Company sought to take back control of their businesses from the city charter, drafting a petition against the 70/30 rule.

See also: Local restaurateurs petition against onerous alcohol rule

The petition originally requested that alcohol license guidelines be in City Council's control rather than the city charter. The Charter commission responded by agreeing to hold a referendum on the 70/30 rule, allowing Minneapolis voters to decide.

Roughly 70 Minneapolis restaurants are affected by the rule. For 70/30 restaurant owners like Molly Broder, this vote determines the long-term success of her three restaurants. The 70/30 rule was created in an attempt to curb a potential bar crowd from overpowering residential communities, but Broder insists we have nothing to worry about.

"This is not a bar movement, this is a movement for restaurants," she says. "We're not trying to open up bars on every corner of the city, and that has never been the intention."

According to Broder, if the rule is amended, the City Council is still going to be harsher on the original 70/30 group than they will be on restaurants in more commercialized zones. Overall, however, it'll just be business as usual.

"There are many of us who are out of compliance," she says, "so it will [just] mean we won't have to worry anymore."

Despite the progress 70/30 restaurants have made in amending the rule, Broder isn't celebrating just yet.

"We have to educate the public," she says. "55 percent [of the public vote required] is a lot different than getting the majority of the City Council."

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