Starting Jan 1., 'last call' will come an hour earlier in Anoka

The city is implementing tougher bar rules to curb crime in the downtown area
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With the new year comes a new rule for bars in the city of Anoka: they'll no longer be able to close at the typical 2 a.m.

Thanks to a new city law kicking in January 1st, local bars will have until 1 a.m. to sell booze, cutting a full hour off their nights.

The change affects five bars in Anoka, four of which are in the city's downtown – an area that has seen an increase in "criminal activity" since the city decided to allow 2 a.m. closings back in 2007, City Council documents show. 

What finally seems to have pushed the city over the edge was an eye-opening police report into the alcohol-fueled criminal behavior, which was submitted to the council in September.

It showed that downtown is seeing a spike in assaults, disorderly conduct and "public urination" between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., and that the police department has spent a lot of money assigning extra cops to the area on weekends – no less than $60,736.00 a year, to be exact. 

Also mentioned during that September council session was a "large fight" that occurred on August 18; additionally, one council member expressed concern "about the image of downtown Anoka."

So, the following month, the council voted to put things back the way they were, and make bars close at 1 a.m. again. 

The reversal isn't without controversy, especially among the bar owners it will directly impact.

"I honestly don’t think closing an hour early will solve the problem,” Paul Justen, owner of Billy's Bar and Grill, told KARE 11. 

He also told the station he started selling breakfast recently in an effort to make up some of the money he expects to lose with the earlier closing time.

Meanwhile, Dan Sweeney, owner of Danno's, tells the Star Tribune that "you don't want to get known as a 1 a.m. city and possibly lose business just right off the bat."

However, the paper notes that city leaders will reevaluate the new rule next fall.

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