After a string of drunken incidents, Plymouth city leaders are discussing whether to close bars earlier citywide and considering a $500 fine for one bar in particular: Cowboy Jack’s.
The City Council discussed possible options Tuesday, but in the end tabled a decision on Cowboy Jack’s so the two sides can meet in an administrative hearing. Council members also talked about moving up bar closing times as another solution to curb alcohol-related incidents.
In January, city leaders warned Cowboy Jack’s that they would look at possible penalties if the popular bar had more than three “Place of Last Drink” notifications within three months. They say that Cowboy Jack’s violated that license condition with nine reports from January to April, including five DWI arrests.
If the city levies the fine, it would be the first penalty imposed under its “Place of Last Drink” program. Plymouth was one of the first to sign on to the program a few years ago, as more suburban police departments started tracking where a person last consumed alcohol before an alcohol-related incident.
From Edina to Chaska, police now track receipts, witness details or voluntary information in an effort to clamp down on over-serving restaurants and bars. It’s illegal under state law for bars or restaurants to serve intoxicated people.
“This is not the first year we’re discussing this,” Mayor Kelli Slavik said Tuesday. “It’s not getting fixed. It’s to the point where we need to do something.”
But attorney David Davenport, who represents Cowboy Jack’s owner, the After Midnight Group in Minneapolis, said that tying “often flawed” data to the bar’s liquor license is unfair.
In one DWI case, he said, it’s unclear if the man had a drink at Cowboy Jack’s or was even in the restaurant before he was pulled over after picking up women outside the bar.
“They’re being held accountable for behavior that they can’t control,” Davenport told council members. “They want to be a good member of this community.”
The company also owns Cowboy Jack’s bars in downtown Minneapolis, Bloomington, Otsego, the Mall of America, New Brighton, Woodbury, St. Cloud and Rochester.
Plymouth officials discussed concerns about Cowboy Jack’s in 2014 and 2015. Then in January, the city attached “Place of Last Drink” conditions, making it the only restaurant or bar in Plymouth with that data tied to its liquor license.
Of the nine incidents from January to April, one case involved a driver arrested with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.11, above the .08 legal limit. Although the man told police he had just “a couple of beers,” officers found a $90 receipt from Cowboy Jack’s.
In another case, police responded to a report of a man at Cowboy Jack’s who fell off a bar stool and was unresponsive.
“We truly do care about public safety and we look forward to working with the City Council to that end,” Davenport said.