Jun 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm
ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - After months of headline-making, violations and eventual indefinite closure earlier this month, two downtown bars will not see their liquor licenses renewed by the city of St. Cloud.
In a unanimous pair of votes following public testimony, the council approved the city administration's recommendation not to renew the licenses for McRudy's Brew Pub and Rum Runners Spirits and Brew Pub.
Prior to the votes, the council heard testimony on both sides of the issue.
City Attorney Matt Staehling presented the history both bars have regarding violations, reaching back over 10 years. They include unlawful service of alcohol or tobacco to a minor, being over-capacity and operating amusement devices without licensure.
The council heard from Police Chief Anderson, who explained how the overcrowding increases the potential for violence at the bars, and takes police attention off other parts of the city.
Anderson presented information showing nearly half of the random police checks conducted throughout the last 5 years in St. Cloud were performed at the bars in question.
St. Cloud Fire Chief Bill Mund gave a presentation on safety, involving footage of collapses and stampedes in over-occupied businesses in other communities.
A representative from the city's health department highlighted unsanitary features of the businesses during past inspections, and representatives from area higher education expressed concern with the unsafe drinking culture they believe is fostered by the businesses.
On the other side, attorney Steven Bader, representation for the bars, urged the council to reconsider such a severe punishment for the violations, citing other establishments with the same number of violations not being submitted for non-renewal.
Another community member supported the bars and shared his belief that the businesses foster the local hip hop music scene.
Staehling took the podium shortly thereafter. He described McRudy's and Rum Runners as "very different businesses" from other downtown bars. "A lack of responsibility," Staehling says. "[They] have not shown an ability to run a safe or responsible establishment."
Staehling reiterated the city's recommendation to close the businesses by saying they require an "overabundance" of city resources.
During the votes, one for each of the bars, members of the city council took turns expressing their dismay with their respective conduct.
One member, George Hontos, referred to the businesses as an "overburden" to residents, taxpayers and city workers."
The bars are co-owned by Brad Ireland and Eric Sandrock, both present for Monday's meeting.
Earlier this year, city staff recommended the city council not renew the bars' liquor licenses due to their most recent deliquencies and citations.
McRudy's had a deliquent water bill and one infraction related to liquor license requirements.
Rum Runners was cited in February for unlawful operation of entertainment devices, being over-capacity and serving alcohol to a minor.
Both bars are listed as being delinquent on their taxes, preventing them from the purchase of any alcohol for resale.
Representatives from McRudy's and Rum Runners were not immediately available to KNSI for comment.