Rochester at liquor license limit, new businesses must wait - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester at liquor license limit, new businesses must wait

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The growth of downtown Rochester is undeniable, with more businesses opening up as the weeks and months go by. Some of that growth includes the addition of liquor licenses in the city, and that's something that has to go through the city council.

Every business in Rochester that submits an application for a liquor license must get approval from the city council before they can serve. This may prove to be a problem for any shop in the near future that wants to apply.

"The licenses come before us on an unpredictable basis, it really depends on how often a business might change over," said Randy Staver, Rochester City Council President.

Even with the unpredictable nature of the applications, Rochester has a state-instituted license limit.

"We're currently limited to 26 off-sale liquor licenses," Staver said. "And as soon as a1 business would give one up, they are usually taken pretty quickly."

When it comes to potential changes to the Kahler Grand, the discussion has been around current businesses turning into a bar or a lounge, but there in lies the problem: the license limit.

"There was some desire on the part of the Kahler to obtain an off-sale liquor license, but unfortunately our hands are somewhat tied right now," Staver said. "We're limited to 26 off-sale liquor licenses and that is by definition of state statute."

When new businesses come in to Rochester, the process is the same.

Christine Stahl went through the same thing with the Tap House, which opened in November of 2012.

"I believe at that time, there were only 2 available, and I know that another downtown bar was kind of in the running for a license as well," Stahl said.

Stahl said that during the meeting with the city council, the topic of the liquor license limit was brought up.

"There was a little bit of discussion, a little bit of questioning as far as liquor licenses and how many that there were already on the books and that kind of thing, but it passed and we really didn't have an issue with it."

But other businesses may run into issues, with Rochester at its limit of liquor establishments.

Once a license expires, it really is a first-come, first-serve basis for getting a liquor license approved by the city council. Yet, as Rochester grows larger, the talk of expanding the liquor license limit may be brought up once more.

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