The Coon Rapids City Council rejected a liquor license application Dec. 18.
DeJun Zheng, the owner of Osaka Steakhouse, 77 85th Ave. N.W., submitted an application for a class A on-sale and Sunday liquor license for his restaurant.
Zheng has owned Osaka Steakhouse for two years, but the liquor license had been in the name of his manager, but he has now left.
The issue that led to the council denying the liquor license on the recommendation of the police department and Deputy City Clerk Kris Linquist was that Zheng has a prior criminal conviction and he did not report that on the liquor license application.
According to Linquist, Zheng was convicted of a misdemeanor gambling offense in 2009 and falsely indicated on the liquor license application that he had not been convicted of any crime or violations of any ordinance other than traffic.
State law states that no retail license “may be issued to a person not of good moral character and repute,” Linquist said.
Moreover, Police Chief Brad Wise told the council that Zheng has two pending felony gambling offenses from 2011 and 2012, as well as a pending check felony charge from this year.
“These are troubling given his 2009 conviction,” Wise said.
According to Zheng, the gambling offense took place in Scott County and he misunderstood that it should have been reported on the license application.
In the two years he has owned Osaka Steakhouse, he said there had been no problems with customers and no underage drinking violations, Zheng said.
“I have tried hard to improve the business,” he said.
But the council was unanimous in denying the issuance of the license, councilmembers saying they had no choice given the circumstances.
According to Councilmember Scott Schulte, if the city did not reject the license, then the state would.
But councilmembers told Zheng that if he had a manager who runs the Osaka Steakhouse operation for him, the license could be taken out in that person’s name provided the police background check comes back clear.
Councilmember Paul Johnson said that person cannot be a “phony,” but must be actively involved in the business.
Zheng’s application did come with a certificate of insurance for liquor liability and workers’ compensation coverage.