No plants? No patio dining in Mankato

Anarchy reigned in Mankato, Minn., for a short time last week before authorities stepped in to curb the scourge of outdoor dining without enough live plants in the vicinity.

The Mankato Times reports police shut down the patio at Blue Bricks on Front Street last week after they determined there weren’t enough flowers nearby.

In Mankato, 25 percent of the area around patio dining has to have at least 25 percent live plants.

“My managers told me that City of Mankato Associate Civil Engineer Landon Bode came into Blue Bricks on Thursday during lunch hour and told the servers that we did not have enough flowers on our patio and we were out of compliance with the City,” owner Marty Lewis said. “After the lunch crowd cleared, my managers went up to Drummers and picked up some shrubs, planters and hanging baskets and put them on the patio.”

City Manager Pat Hentges says the ordinance is to “make sure the patios don’t become drinking corrals,” according to the Star Tribune. He said the patio is on city property.

The patio has since reopened.

  • Gary F

    Too much government.

    • cricky101

      Too many whining neighboring businesses.

      • Stephen Gee

        I agree, cricky. I would not be surprised at all if a neighboring or rival business with a gripe is at the root of this one.

    • Nick K

      Yes, how dare the government regulate what happens on public property! All kidding aside, I can’t begin to imagine what the issue is with the city developing and enforcing rules for what private businesses can do on public property.
      “Blue Bricks and the others that received the e-mail have their patios on what’s called “public right of way,” meaning the sidewalk is city-owned and regulated property.”

  • Jeff

    From the picture I’m concerned about the lack of blue bricks on the patio. Seems like there should be some accountability there also.

    • MrE85

      Heh. I have been to Blue Bricks a couple of times. I exhibit at an annual convention in Mankato, and it’s close to the hotel I always stay at.

  • X.A. Smith

    When City Councils try to be clever.

    Also, when City Engineers who work on their lunch break decide to enforce the letter of the law, disregarding completely the spirit of the law.

  • Mike

    How do plants prevent people from getting trashed?

    • X.A. Smith

      Yeah, it comes from some sort of repressed crypto-classist definitions of acceptable behavior. But then I guess that’s pretty par for the course in this country. Are they expecting that bar owners are too cheap or slovenly to pay for potted plants and maintain them?

    • Nick K

      The purpose of the ordinance is to make sure that private businesses, who have patios on public property, maintain a certain look. In this case, the city council clearly believes that plants will make the patio look nicer, which is where the “drinking corral” statement comes in. If you read the full quote, it becomes clear that the issue is aesthetics and not an attempt to curb drinking. From the Star Tribune article: “The thinking behind the ordinance was to “make sure the patios don’t become drinking corrals” and that there’s “a certain amount of the aesthetics that match” the overall look of downtown, the city manager said.”

    • Jerry

      If you’re trashed enough, flowers look very judgemental?

  • John O.

    So, would artificial flora and fauna satisfy ordinance requirements, or does it have to be “real?” Good lord, don’t these people have anything better to do?

  • Jeff C.

    Would the reaction be different if the patio was privately-owned and the owner told the restaurant that in exchange for using the space without paying any rent that they needed to put some plants out. And then, after giving the restaurant two weeks to do something that could be done in two hours, would people be surprised if the property-owner canceled the deal until the restaurant carried out their side of the deal? This isn’t a case of “too much government” or “clueless bureaucrats” – this is a property-owner giving a damn about the look of an area that effects multiple businesses. When the owner said the patio was closed by the “plant police” he was acting like a child who says to his friends, “The milk police say I have to go back inside and drink my milk. I’ll be back outside to play in a minute.” If your parents say, “Drink your milk before you leave the dinner table” you should drink your milk. If the city says, “Put out some plants if you are going to use the public sidewalk without paying for it” you should put of out some plants.