Bloomington approves no Total Wine before its time, to paraphrase a line from an old Paul Masson TV commercial.
Nearly a year after confident executives from Total Wine predicted a Dec. 5, 2013, opening, the Maryland-based wine superstore was granted a liquor license Monday to open their long-dormant Bloomington location at the northwest corner of I-494 and France Avenue.
President and co-founder David Trone expects the Bloomington store to open Nov. 14. “It was a good process and the council respected the decision of the administrative law judge,” Trone said after receiving approval from the Bloomington City Council Monday night.
Delays first arose when Bloomington officials claimed that Total Wine had omitted information about license violations in states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania from its application. Bloomington’s city code also would not allow minor children to be owners in trust. Co-owners David and Robert Trone changed their ownership structure to include only them, not their children, even though no other city in the country required the change.
The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) also raised concerns over fines and violations in some of the 16 states with Total Wine stores.
The city then asked administrative law judge Perry Wilson to evaluate the evidence, including more than 5,000 pages of testimony and information from the MLBA, and recommend a decision on the license. On Oct. 20 he recommended approving the liquor license, a decision he described as “not an easy one.” Most council members referenced Wilson’s opinion in explaining their own votes Monday.
Last Friday, city attorney Sandra Johnson suggested that the council consider adding provisions before approving the license. “We’re being proactive to make sure they’re in compliance,” she said. Ultimately, only two of seven council members voted for the extra provisions and the measures failed.
David Trone contended that the objections were attempts to prevent lower prices in an area that has seen little price competition.
Total Wine originally planned five to eight stores in the Twin Cities. Locations in Roseville and Burnsville opened earlier this year, and Woodbury is expected to open by the end of the week. A Maple Grove store could come later. Total Wine superstores typically offer 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers. The chain has nearly 110 stores.