Bootleggers is closing after Minneapolis threatened to revoke liquor license, a threat facing a nearby club.
Two weeks after the city of Minneapolis threatened to revoke the liquor licenses of two problem clubs downtown, one has decided to throw in the towel.
Bootleggers, on 4th Street and 1st Avenue N., will soon close its doors rather than let the Minneapolis City Council decide the fate of its liquor license. The development represents a win for city officials, who are putting pressure on several businesses following a rash of late-night violence around 1st Avenue this summer.
"The action saves the taxpayers and the owner a lot of money by avoiding a fight," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said. "We were prepared to do battle, but instead we wish them well and will keep working on...making the Warehouse District even better."
The mayor and other city officials drew attention to Bootleggers and a nearby club, Envy, earlier this month at a news conference highlighting problems at the two establishments.
Club owners had two options: Surrender the licenses, as Bootleggers did, or let the City Council decide whether to revoke them. The businesses could also present their cases to an administrative law judge, who would then make a recommendation to the council. Envy has until Monday to make a decision.
Fighting the charges is a risky bet, however. Minneapolis' business licensing manager, Grant Wilson, said state law prevents people with a revoked license from obtaining a new one in any municipality for five years.
Deepak Nath, a partner in the company that owns Bootleggers, declined to comment on Tuesday. Owners of Envy did not return a message seeking comment. The city said in its findings that Susan Beamon, a minority owner of Envy, was also making the day-to-day operating decisions at Bootleggers.
"We want business owners to be committed to running safe, well-managed businesses that are assets to customers and the neighborhood," said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who heads the council's regulatory committee. "If a business doesn't feel that it has the ability to meet our community's standards, then closing its doors is the right thing to do."
In recommending license revocation, city staff members listed a number of violations they had documented at Bootleggers: On April 1, the business was admitting and serving people who were already intoxicated. On May 28, people were consuming alcohol after 2:30 a.m. On June 28, the bar was serving liquor after 2 a.m.
Bootleggers also allegedly violated city ordinances by not reporting a new manager, Beamon, and owing $1,500 for false alarm fees.
Wilson said the owners of Bootleggers are seeking to sell the business. If that happens, the owner would then need to apply for a new liquor license. It is possible the owner could attempt to reopen using the name Bootleggers. Bootleggers has operated downtown since 2006.
City officials have also announced a proposed ordinance change that would allow them to impose conditions on business licenses, rather than coming to a mutual agreement with owners. They expect it will help expedite the process of taking action against repeat offenders.
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper