A St. Paul hearing officer is recommending the city issue a liquor license to a Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar that has agreed to a number of conditions to reassure Snelling-Hamline neighbors concerned about noise and congestion.
Now company officials want immediate approval from the City Council so they have time to train about 100 workers for the scheduled opening on June 24.
Katherine Becker, an attorney for Buffalo Wild Wings, said she hoped that the license request can be acted on Wednesday as a "thank you" for the numerous accommodations she says the sports bar has made for neighbors.
The item is not on the published council agenda and would have to be introduced under suspension of the rules.
"If we don't get on that agenda, we really don't believe we can open on June 24," she said.
Buffalo Wild Wings leased space in a Snelling Avenue strip mall last winter that had been occupied by Cheapo Records, with plans to install its first franchise in St. Paul. The location is close to several colleges, a prime target for the popular wings-and-beer chain.
Neighbors rallied to trade information and monitor developments at the site, in an effort to tamp down the sports bar's effect on the neighborhood and possibly even persuade it to look elsewhere.
That didn't happen, but in the meantime the neighbors won a series of concessions.
The latest were agreed upon Thursday, when the company promised to see that patrons leave in an orderly fashion, that it won't hang an illuminated sign in a window facing Ashland Avenue neighbors, and that it will pick up trash daily nearby and in the parking lot.
Earlier this month, it withdrew its request to stay open until 2 a.m. It will close at 1 a.m.
Although neighbors were unable to stop the sports bar from opening, Brenda Natala said that Buffalo Wild Wings knows they'll be watching.
"We've had to call them a few times about small issues, and we feel that they've been responsive about some of those issues, but we know we have to be vigilant," said Natala, a charter school administrator who lives across the street.
"We're hoping it will be better than we thought."
At Friday's hearing, company officials said they would relocate a parking lot entrance to align with an alley across the street, and erect a wrought iron-style fence along the Ashland Avenue side to channel pedestrian traffic.
They previously had agreed to forgo a patio, soundproof the building, use a quiet ventilation system that controls odors and schedule trash pickup after 8 a.m. on weekdays.
Becker said that about 100 new employees need to be trained soon to pour drinks and serve food at the Snelling Avenue store, which has a different bar configuration than most other Buffalo Wild Wings. They can't train with liquor until the license is approved.