Aug 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm
ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - A business plan to bring new life to the former McRudy's Pub building in downtown St. Cloud has been turned down.
During their Monday night meeting, the St. Cloud City Council moved unanimously to deny a liquor license application from proposed bar and restaurant The Pickled Loon, to be located at 715 St. Germain Street.
The vote comes on the heels of city staff's recommendation not to approve the license, citing building and law enforcement concerns, along with worries over former McRudy's ownership becoming involved with the new business.
Christopher Jost, Michael Ahrens, Rhiannon Johnson and Michale Illies, listed as the owners of the Pickled Loon,were described during the hearing as having over 40 combined years of St. Cloud area bartending and management experience.
According to the business plan provided to the council, the four are seeking to open a bar "like the White Horse" which would cater to an older demographic, focused more on food and craft beers over cheap drink specials to attract college students.
Jost, a former bartender and manager with the Red Carpet, says they seek to develop a business with the kinds of prices which would "promote responsible drinking."
However, Ahrens has a past with McRudy's as an employee and manager for over 10 years, and that involvement with the contentious McRudy's Pub is a detail city council member John Libert tells KNSI he's unable to overlook.
"We have to trust what they're saying, and there are contradictions here," Libert says. "They have a previous manager of the bar here. A manager is a manager - he's in charge of the bar. All of the violations of the past ten years - the manager is responsible for that, and he's planning to be part owner. There's just too much linkage here."
Council members Dave Masters and Carol Lewis expressed a willingness to review an amended application and possibly approve a 6 month conditional liquor license.
Libert says he's not convinced the business plan pitched to the council would remain firm, and he wants to see all McRudy's ownership and management influence removed from the plan to avoid the issues that shut the business down earlier this summer.
"I would welcome anybody who would like to fill that space - but we want an asset, not a liability."
McRudy's liquor license renewal was refused in June due to concerns over numerous ordinance violations and unpaid bills.
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