Shutdown threatens some bars and restaurants

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As my colleague Annie Baxter pointed out this morning, the longer the shutdown continues, the more private business are feeling the pinch. Add to that some bars, restaurants and liquor stores that are delinquent in their tax payments.

The Department of Revenue has listed more than 100 establishments across Minnesota that cannot receive shipments of booze until the shutdown is over. The list appears here. Under state law, a liquor license holder can only buy its supply of spirits from a licensed wholesaler. License holders who are behind on their taxes get placed on a list. It’s against state law for wholesalers to sell to licensees on the list. It is also against the law for a business on the list to go around the system by buying liquor from another retailer.

The Department of Revenue’s assistant commissioner for individual taxes, Terri Steenblock, says businesses had until the end of the day on June 28 to make their payments and avoid being placed on the list which was posted on the evening of June 29. She says while the department is collecting tax revenue during the shutdown, it is not a critical function to remove businesses from the delinquent list.

I called and visited several bars and restaurants on the list, but they all told me they had gotten their payments taken care of before the shutdown. When I stopped by Duplex in south Minneapolis, I saw lunch patrons enjoying wine and beer. The manager told me they weren’t having a problem with their booze supply.

Steenblock says delinquent bars and restaurants may continue to sell booze they already have in stock.

However, many Minneapolis establishments need to restock each week. That’s according to Grant Wilson, deputy director of licenses and consumer services for the city of Minneapolis. He says one bar on the delinquency list, The Independent in Calhoun Square, has been cited twice by the city for illegally restocking their shelves.

He says the shutdown will also affect liquor licensees that haven’t applied for, or renewed their buyer’s card. The $20 buyer’s card is required for businesses to receive their booze shipments from wholesalers. Wilson says the card applications and renewals – which are handled through the state’s Department of Public Safety – are also not deemed essential services.

  • Allen

    The problem isn’t the partial government shutdown but that the state government requires these things in the first place. Most of laws and regulations regarding alcohol are overbearing, antiquated and authoritarian. Worse they’re used by established businesses to reduce competition.