Owners of small neighborhood restaurants in Minneapolis may get help from the city's charter commission in their quest to relax local liquor laws.
The law says restaurants in largely residential areas of the city must earn at least 70 percent of their revenue from food sales -- meaning alcohol sales can't exceed 30 percent.
The rule, though, doesn't work with modern eating habits, said Molly Broder, who owns Broder's Pasta Bar in the city's southwest corner.
"If you get two plates of pasta at the pasta bar for $15 each, and you want to share a bottle of wine for $30 -- do the math. That's 50/50," she explained. "That's not 70/30."
Broder and other restaurant owners say they've gathered almost half of the 11,000 signatures they'd need to put the issue on this year's ballot. The charter commission can authorize ballot questions without a petition, and will hold a public hearing on the matter next month.
The 70/30 rule, which is part of the city's charter, affects about 70 eateries, mostly in southwest Minneapolis.
Restaurants on busy streets and commercial areas can derive up to 40 percent of their revenue from booze and are governed by city ordinance as opposed to the more difficult-to-change charter.
Both rules are outdated, city licensing staffers say.
They're trying to devise a more flexible way to differentiate bars from restaurants, but they can't help businesses affected by the 70/30 rule without a charter amendment, which requires either a referendum or the unanimous support of the City Council.