Minneapolis restaurants optimistic about new full liquor menus

On 38th and Nicollet in south Minneapolis, Black Bird Café has been a cornerstone in the community for years.

The café currently serves American cuisine along with wine and beer, but in the coming months something new will be added to the menu - hard liquor.

“Getting a liquor license is going to change our logistics on how we do things now," said Gene Jirard with Black Bird Cafe.

In November, residents voted in favor of lifting a decades-old restriction that only allowed restaurants within a large commercial space to serve cocktails. The move lead to new opportunities for more than 70 neighborhood restaurants across the city.

“It pretty much evens the playing field for us, local restaurants being able to be competitive in this market. It opens a lot of doors and it gives people choices now,” Jirard said.

Pizzeria Lola on 55th and Xerxes is the first of seven businesses to apply so far this year.

“Having Sunday liquor sales repealed was - to me, at least - an indication that people’s attitudes, at least in some ways about availability and consumption of full alcohol are shifting from how many years ago when these laws were enacted,” said Kris Mertz with Pizzeria Lola.

The change is expected to spur economic growth in the area.

“I think that it gives that industry an opportunity to grow their business and to offer a wide variety of alcohol,” said Linda Roberts with Minneapolis Business Licensing.

A public hearing is part of the application process, which could span up to three months. 

Gene Jirard isn't expecting any pushback; rather, he says that support has been pouring in.  

“We’re going to start small and not too complicated, and as the need grows, we’ll grow with it,” Jirard said.