EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. - The East Grand Forks City Council is waiting to hear if it can amend city liquor laws to accommodate businesses looking to serve alcohol with a much lower food sales requirement.
A business called Creatively Uncorked is researching opening an art studio in the city, but the city doesn't have a liquor license that fits its needs, prompting a request from city staff to change the law.
It's the second such request the city has had from a painting party business in the past 13 months.
Creatively Uncorked hosts painting parties where groups assemble to recreate a painting step by step with the guidance of an instructor.
"I'm trying to get a liquor license, but I don't want to open a restaurant," Creatively Uncorked President Shanna Cramer told the council at its June 9 work session.
During that meeting, Cramer said she could reclassify her business as a small establishment under state law but is asking the council to adjust the required food sales percentage from 60 percent to 5 to 10 percent.
The business serves snacks and alcohol at its Moorhead studio location and would like the same offerings at a potential East Grand Forks location. When reached by phone, Cramer declined to comment further on the venture.
Council members expressed support for the business at the work session but were unsure if the city could accommodate its request.
The council directed City Attorney Ron Galstad to research the city's options for amending its liquor license laws.
"I'd have to follow up to make sure it is statutorily correct -- I believe it probably can work out that way," Galstad said of changing the sales percentage. "Then I'd have to modify the language and then you'd have to vote on the authority to amend the liquor ordinance."
Like other law changes, the amendment would require two readings and subsequently two votes at council meetings. The matter will be brought back to the council at its June 23 work session.
If Creatively Uncorked chooses to locate in East Grand Forks, Cramer said she has found a space in a building near the intersection of Central Avenue Northwest and 15th Street Northeast. The business has been conducting parties in the Grand Forks area but at restaurants that have provided the food and alcohol.
This isn't the first painting business to come to the council asking how to qualify for a liquor license.
In May 2014, the city was approached by Canvas 2 Paint, a painting party business in Rapid City, S.D.
In a city staff report prepared for the council's May 13, 2014 work session, City Executive Assistant Megan Nelson said the state Alcohol and Gambling Division told her Canvas 2 Paint might qualify for a consumption and display license, which would allow patrons to bring their own alcohol to the business' events.
Under state law, this type of license can be granted to drugstores, restaurants, hotels, clubs, bowling centers, golf courses, and select establishments.
Nelson noted in the report the city's alcohol ordinance did not include golf courses or establishments and would have to be changed in order to potentially grant the business a license.
The law was not amended at that time.