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Committee recommends City Council enact taproom license

WILLMAR -- No one has yet proposed establishing a small brewery here with a taproom where the beer is consumed on-site.

But if someone does, the city could have an ordinance ready to allow it.

The Public Works/Safety Committee is recommending the City Council direct the city attorney to draft a new ordinance amending city code to establish an on-sale brewer taproom license category.

The full council will consider the recommendation at its regular meeting Monday night.

The committee approved the recommendation this week after City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said the city has received a request to create a new category of liquor license to accommodate the unique retailing venue of breweries and brew pubs.

The request was made to Halliday via email by an individual Halliday thought was not local. Halliday did not identify the individual.

Halliday said the Legislature established a law in 2011 that allows municipalities to create a special on-sale category for breweries and brew pubs called a taproom license that would allow the brewery or brew pub to sell their products for consumption on the premises.

Current city code restricts on-sale intoxicating liquor licenses to hotels and restaurants. In order to obtain an on-sale license under the current code, a license would need to have a significant percentage of gross sales derived from food.

This in contrast to the business model that a taproom or brewer would be seeking, said Halliday. He said brewery taproom operators simply want to have the ability for patrons to consume the on-premises brewed product.

"This is to see if the council has any appetite to add this new license,'' said Halliday. "It does not require food sales. The license fees are controlled by state statute.''

Planning and Development Director Bruce Peterson said he would recommend a location in a general business district, the central business district or the shopping mall district.

Speaking in favor of the proposal was downtown business owner Nick Davis. He said he looked into a similar business model in some detail last year. Davis said he did not make the request but was excited someone did.

"I believe it brings in a different crowd than a restaurant setting would,'' he said.

The committee asked Police Chief David Wyffels for his thoughts regarding another venue for serving alcohol.

Wyffels said he had no objection as long as the owners and operators exercise proper control and take proper measures to not serve to minors.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150