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Nisswa: Council asked to reconsider Sunday growler sales

Chris French, owner of Big Axe Brewing Co. in downtown Nisswa, asked the city council Wednesday, June 15, to reconsider its refusal to allow taprooms to sell growlers on Sundays.

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Chris French, owner of Big Axe Brewing Co. in downtown Nisswa, asked the city council Wednesday, June 15, to reconsider its refusal to allow taprooms to sell growlers on Sundays.

The three members present - mayor Harold Kraus and council members Don Jacobson and Ross Krautkremer - didn't act on that request. Council members Gary Johnson and Fred Heidmann were absent.

The state Legislature gave cities the authority to allow or not allow taprooms/breweries to sell growlers of beer on Sundays. Nisswa city code does not allow Sunday growler sales. The city does allow on-sale Sunday sales.

French asked the council to grant a temporary permit to sell growlers of beer on Sundays, including July 3. He said allowing Sunday sales would provide an economic benefit by increasing revenue and providing jobs. The revenue would help his taproom stay open and pay employees in slower winter months, he said.

French also said Sunday beer sales already are allowed, with Nisswa convenience stores allowed by sell 3.2 beer on Sundays. He did say his beer has a higher percentage of alcohol.

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"Breweries are unique in that people come and want to bring the product home with them, and we feel that that helps people who take pride in the area, when they want to take a piece of the area with them," he said, adding that taprooms are making the area a destination, like golfing and fishing do.

"People across the state expect to be able to buy growlers on Sundays. We hear lots of feedback about that," French said, adding he thinks Nisswa is the only city that's rejected that option.

"It is something people are becoming accustomed to," French said, noting it's important to the brewing and beer industry to keep up.

"I ask the council to embrace the free market by allowing Sunday growler sales," he said.

The council said the idea of a trial period wouldn't be allowed under the law.

Jacobson said the council voted 5-0 not to allow Sunday growler sales when the issue last came up.

"I wouldn't change my vote," he said. "If people want growlers, they can buy them Saturday night and take them home."

Krautkremer said he also still opposes Sunday growler sales. But he is willing to review it in the future and see what other cities do.

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Kraus said it was gratifying to see the amount of business at Big Axe on Sundays. "I'm just not sure there's a real need to change what we have at the present time," he said.

French said it's busy now, but it's a different story in January.

"Sunday growler sales in summer would help us stay open in winter," he said, noting he broke even last winter and does want to continue to stay open year-round.

When asked if there was anything he could do to build his case, the council said French could compile a list of points for his cause and revisit it in the future.

In other brewery news, Krautkremer asked for a special council meeting to address a concern that growlers are being sold on Sundays in violation of the city code, indicating the city's other brewery - Gull Dam Brewing - has done so.

City attorney Steve Qualley said the council is the administrative body that has issued a license and can impose "punishment" if a business has violated terms of the license, such as imposing a monetary sanction or revoking the license.

In his report to the council, police chief Craig Taylor said police planned to do compliance checks for Sunday growler sales.

Related Topics: NISSWANISSWA CITY COUNCIL
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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