St. Paul council OKs later liquor store hours

Jeff Moriarty, a founder of Tin Whiskers Brewing.
Jeff Moriarty, a founder of Tin Whiskers Brewing in downtown St. Paul. He wanted to sell growlers of beer after 8 p.m. during the week.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

St. Paul's liquor stores will soon be able to sell their wares until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The city council unanimously approved an ordinance amendment to expand off-sale liquor hours. Right now, liquor stores have to close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Council member Chris Tolbert brought the amendment forward.

"It's one of those things where liquor stores still have the opportunity to stay open until 8 if they want to stay open until 8, or they could close at 3 in the afternoon too," Tolbert said. "This just gives the option for liquor stores to stay open until 10 and also growler sales to go until 10 at the breweries."

But the extended hours aren't popular with everyone. Several small liquor store owners wrote in opposition to the amendment, saying the longer hours will bring in more overhead costs for staffing or require them to work longer days.

They worry the change will help bigger stores that already staff those hours, such as Target, Trader Joe's and Kowalski's.

But some say it's also about keeping up with what other cities allow. City council member Amy Brendmoen's ward includes the north central part of the city.

"As a person who represents a ward that borders Roseville, it makes perfect sense to me that our law is the same as the law of the city that's right next door," she said.

According to city data, all cities surrounding St. Paul, with the exception of Mendota Heights, allow liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Mendota Heights stores close at 9 p.m. on those days.

The amendment is expected to go into effect next month.

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