Target has lost more appeals in its quest to gain a liquor license from the city of Minnetonka.
The Minneapolis-based retailer had attempted to obtain a liquor license in 2015, 2017 and 2019. After being denied each time, the company took Minnetonka to court about a year ago.
The lawsuit claimed that the city of Minnetonka acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its denial, despite Target’s satisfying the city’s requirements. Target also claimed it was denied equal protection of the law after Total Wine was issued a license in 2017.
A decision filed May 18 by the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected Target’s case. The court found that the city’s reasons for denying the license initially were valid, including not offering distinctive specialty service, not adding positively to living and working in the city, a location that was already adequately served by an existing liquor store and removing the only existing liquor store in a village center.
Target’s equal-protection argument was also denied after it failed to establish that it is similarly situated to Total Wine.
Target can petition for a review of the decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court by June 17.
“We are disappointed in both the city’s decision and the court’s ruling and we are considering our options for next steps,” said Target spokeswoman Jessica Carlson in a statement.
Minnetonka guards its 12 to 13 off-sale licenses. The city believes that a dozen licenses adequately serve the community and has occasionally operated with fewer than 12.
Liquor retailers besides Target have tried and failed to penetrate the Minnetonka market.
John Wolf, owner of Chicago Lake Liquors in Minneapolis and former owner of Liquor Boy in St. Louis Park, tried to open a store in 2010 without success.
Total Wine suffered defeat initially, being turned down in 2016. It was granted a license in 2017 only after it changed the location to one with less congestion and more parking.
It also may have helped that when Total Wine reapplied, it planned to purchase the assets of Big Top Liquors on Ridgedale Drive and U.S. Liquor & Wine on Hwy. 7. In effect, the city would lose two liquor licenses and gain one. After Total Wine’s license was granted, those stores closed, relinquishing their licenses.
Target attempted a similar strategy, planning to buy the assets of Strong Liquor in Cedar Hills Shopping Center. Strong continues to operate since Target has not succeeded in securing a license for its location near Hwys. 101 and 7.