More St. Paul restaurants to start serving alcohol

People heading out to dinner for New Year's festivities in St. Paul, Minnesota will be able to order something new with their meal: cocktails. A change to the city's charter opened up more liquor licenses for restaurants in  the capital city. 

Restaurant owners and neighborhood groups pushed for the change, calling the old laws "outdated."

The old laws capped the number of licenses citywide and by ward. As late as September 2015, Ward 3, which includes Highland Park, only had seven licenses allotted and all were in use. Ward 4 only had one license available.

“Before we would have never been able to get one,” said Maxwell Thompson, owner of Stewart’s on Cleveland Avenue North. “Even on the list of how you were to get a liquor license, we would have been the third of three choices.”

Thompson owned the former 128 Café in the space, and said the change in laws helped the change in concept happen.

“It allowed us to sort of give the neighborhood I think what a lot of people really wanted, which is a lot of times, people would come into 128 [Café] and ask for a cocktail or a spirit on the rocks and it was not something we could offer,” Thompson said.

Restaurants who obtain the licenses do face some restrictions. They must close by midnight and must still receive their revenue primarily from food and not alcohol sales.