Wine license, lease changes for Mad Hatter

Working to reopen in Anoka’s historic Woodbury House, owners of the Mad Hatter are nearing the opening of a full-service restaurant.

The business received approvals to serve wine, beer and offer setups, which allows for customers to bring in their own hard liquor for consumption. But the hard liquor cannot be stored at the business when it reopens at 1632 S. Ferry St.

Owners Liz and Tim Koch are on the homestretch of readying the property they are leasing from the city to open as the new home of the Mad Hatter.

“It’s moving very quickly now. … We anticipate opening in early May,” Liz Koch said during the public hearing for the Mad Hatter’s wine license.

Cosmetic upgrades as well as the installation of a commercial kitchen have been underway over the past several months.

“We haven’t had any big complications yet,” Koch said.

The city bought the property from Anoka’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority last year and has entered into a five-year lease agreement with the Kochs.

The tea room had long been located in Anoka’s downtown in the Old Post Office at the corner of East Main Street and Third Avenue.

But the Kochs’ interest in growing the business to include a full-service restaurant coincided with the availability to lease the Woodbury House.

Both the city and the Kochs have been working on upgrades to the historic home.

The Anoka City Council also agreed to amend the lease to allow the Mad Hatter to use the second floor of the home to host private functions. Originally, public use had been limited to the main floor of the house.

According to Development Manager Erik Thorvig, the building official and fire chief have reviewed the request to use the upper level of the home for private parties. The occupancy must be limited to 30 people on the second floor.

The lease was also adjusted so the Kochs will not begin paying rent on the space until the business opens. The original lease had payments starting Feb. 1.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]