An Anoka bar has had its late-night liquor license suspended after the business failed to meet the city’s required food-to-alcohol service ratio.
During year-end reporting, the city learned Misfits Saloon, located at 821 East River Road, had only accounted for 33.5 percent of its sales from food, just shy of the city’s 35 percent requirement.
At the end of the year, all businesses holding liquor licenses must submit an audit by a certified professional accountant certifying they sell the minimum food sales requirement.
Owners Jess and Dan Voss said they were unaware of the 35 percent minimum.
While they have been in business nearly two years, the timing of taking out the license in January of the previous year meant they didn’t have to report those totals at the end of 2015.
Then when they submitted their audit for 2016, they came up short.
The council discussed a couple of options, which included the consideration of Misfits to operate business as usual while making a special effort to increase food sales.
Several council members spoke out against that option.
“Once we say it’s OK to be close, we’re going to have a whole bunch of people we’ve set a precedent for,” Council Member Jeff Weaver said.
Mayor Phil Rice was the lone member of the council to support letting Misfits take six months to boost its food sales.
Rice said he hoped the council was adamant when others come in looking for a break on the city’s ordinances related to building.
“We have compromised on building standards where we have an ordinance, more than once, because we wanted to be … friendly to business,” Rice said.
Instead, the council agreed on a 4-1 vote to suspend Misfits’ special late-night license, which allows the bar to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday nights. Rice was opposed.
Weaver said he thought this decision was a compromise, when the council could have exercised the option of revoking all of Misfits’ liquor licenses.
“When you run a business, you have rules,” Weaver said. “I think we’re making a good faith effort to not follow the letter of the law exactly. We’re wavering a little bit by talking about a portion of their day.”
Council Member Brian Wesp agreed.
“I’m a neighbor of yours and I’m glad that you’re there,” Wesp said. “I don’t want to revoke your license or even suspend it. But we have certain guidelines in place because of the nature of your business, and your neighbors.”
The Vosses said that the numbers are already improving and in December they rose above 35 percent. And in the past they had been accounting for sales of pop and store merchandise under the liquor category.
The council did agree to refund Misfits’ 2 a.m. liquor license fee. It would then be charged a prorated amount if it meets minimums in the next six months and owners choose to reapply for the special license.