Patrons of Rochester’s growing number of taprooms will soon be able to get a late-night growler to go.
The City Council voted Monday to extend the cutoff for off-sale beer, wine and liquor to 10 p.m. weekdays — the latest time allowed under state law — responding to requests from brewery owners and beer-lovers. Before, such sales ended at 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, thanks to a long-standing city ordinance.
The 6-1 vote followed a debate between brewery and liquor store owners over whether to change Rochester’s rule — an anomaly among both bigger and smaller, neighboring cities. Soon, both kinds of businesses will be able to sell until 10 p.m. if they choose.
“I think that we have great, new innovative businesses here in Rochester, four of them, and I really want to foster that industry and see them do well,” said Council Member Michael Wojcik, referring to the new microbreweries and brewpubs. “And certainly hamstringing them with regulation that is more severe than the rest of the state is not the way to go about doing this.”
The council had first considered the later end time earlier this month, but liquor store owners spoke out, saying that the cutoff protected their employees from crimes that tend to occur at night.
So the council amended an ordinance to allow sales of growlers, or jugs of draft beer, until 10 p.m. Because of liquor store owners’ concerns, the council left their cutoff alone.
But two days later, the city clerk pointed out that the mismatched rules weren’t legal. “State statute requires that the growler sale hours must match the off-sale hours of regular liquor stores,” Aaron Reeves wrote in a Sept. 11 letter to liquor license holders.
So the council revisited the issue Monday.
Council Member Ed Hruska said that at first, he was “mildly against” extending off-sale hours. But because the compromise fell through, he decided to support a later end time for all.
“It still gives the opportunity and the option for businesses to … run things the way they want,” Hruska said. “But it does open it up and keeps it level with the state.”