Minneapolis scraps alcohol sales ratio, gender-specific bathrooms

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It was a busy day for Minneapolis City Council Friday as it voted for several proposals that it hopes will have a positive effect on local businesses.

Here's a look at some of them.

Alcohol sales ratio

The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-0 to get rid of an alcohol ordinance that's been in place for decades, which requires restaurants to get the majority of their sales from food rather than alcohol.

This rule depends on where the restaurant is located. The food-to-alcohol ratio for commercial areas like Uptown is 60-40, meaning 60 percent of sales must be made from food, while no more than 40 percent can come from alcohol sales. For smaller restaurants, which are mostly tucked away in residential areas, the ratio is 70-30, and for downtown Minneapolis there isn't a ratio requirement, MinnPost reports.

The 60-40 rule started in 1983 as a way to keep bars in residential areas from becoming trouble spots, WCCO says.

Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson said on his Facebook page that the ratios were "well-intentioned but poorly-designed regulations that ended up punishing restaurants for selling craft beer. As a result of this change, we'll see more local jobs at the many craft breweries in our city and will cease punishing restaurants, most of whom serve responsibly and are good neighbors."

The craft beer boom has made it hard for restaurants to comply with the ordinance.

“A burger is $10 and craft beers are anywhere from $6.50 to $8. So, if you have two of those and one sandwich, you can’t hit that number,” Keegan’s Irish Pub owner Marty Neumann told WCCO.

The city council voted to replace the 60-40 ratio with a set of standards restaurants have to abide by, the Star Tribune reports, which includes rules about the hours food must be served and require specific alcohol service training.

A proposal for a similar change for restaurants that must abide by the 70-30 ratio was proposed, but because it's written into the city charter, it can only be changed by voters be put to voters – it'll be Question 2 on the ballot this November, KARE 11 says.

"This rule is a handcuff on the smaller restaurants, the little gems we have in the neighborhoods here in Minneapolis," Molly Broder,owner of Broder's Cucina and Terzo Vino wine bar, told KARE 11. "It's a rule that may have worked 20 years ago but doesn't work anymore."

Gender-neutral restrooms

The men's and women's restroom signs are coming down in Minneapolis.

The city voted 12-0 to change an ordinance that required restaurants with single-user restrooms to have separate restrooms for men and women. This doesn't change multi-stall men's and women's restrooms.

Now these restrooms will be gender-neutral, Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson, who introduced the change, said on his Facebook page.

"This is a win for small businesses, a win for everyone who has waited to use a restroom while a restroom for the opposite sex was unoccupied, and most importantly, a win for transgender residents," according to the post.

"Transgender residents, they face things such as harassment, gender policing,” Johnson told KSTP. “They face threats and intimidation. And something as every day and simple as going to the bathroom, they shouldn't have to face those kinds of threats and harassment.”

Supporters have also said that the change allows for more flexibility for families.

Other items voted on

Among other items the city voted on Friday:

  • Authorized funding of pilot program for police body cameras.
  • Approved a tweaked version of Ryan Companies plan to develop a residential tower in Block One of Downtown East instead of reviewing a competing proposal made by the Minnesota Vikings, KARE 11 reports.
  • Expanded early voting hours for no excuse absentee ballots, including Sundays, City Councilman Jacob Frey said on his Facebook page.
  • Frey also wrote the city council also voted to allow urban gardens and farm stands to conduct sales.

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