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Edina's restaurants prepare for some happy-hour toasts

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA
  • Star Tribune
  • May 5, 2012 - 7:53 PM

Happy-hour revelers, it's time to celebrate in Edina.

Starting on Thursday, restaurateurs in Edina will be able to offer customers happy-hour discounts on liquor and beer. If that sounds pretty pedestrian, it isn't to the Edina Grill's David Burley.

Burley, the CEO of Blue Plate Restaurant Co., does business in what was the very last Minnesota city to prohibit happy-hour discounts on booze. The City Council unanimously changed that policy last week.

"We're very excited," Burley said Friday. "For me, it was a pretty significant victory."

Edina, which has no bars, requires restaurants to make most of their money through food sales and sells liquor only through city-owned stores, gave the change considerable study. In the end, City Council members were moved by the pleas of such business owners as Burley, who said they were at a competitive disadvantage to restaurants in nearby cities.

Happy-hour specials like cheap burgers just didn't draw customers like a cheaper beer would have, Burley said. He said the lack of a happy-hour liquor special often was greeted with disbelief by new customers. Now, he'll be able to use tactics like discounting a bottle of wine on slow days to draw more customers.

The city's decision comes with restrictions: no two-for-one deals or punch cards, games or barters that promote alcohol consumption. That's fine with Burley, who believes happy hour in Edina will be a sedate affair.

"We are not a college bar," he said. "We're appealing to the Edina and southwest Minneapolis demographic, which is a wonderful mix of younger families and seniors."

Indeed, at a meeting where the change was discussed, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland said most of the happy-hour inquiries he'd gotten came from senior citizens who just wanted to go out with friends for a light meal and a not-so-expensive drink.

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 Twitter: @smetan

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