The bar stools are purchased, the chalkboard menu is colored and the beer is ready.
But Pour Decisions Brewery is claiming the taproom liquor license fee required by the city of Roseville—$7,200 per year for a full-week license—is too high to afford.
The brewery has been selling bottles from its 1744 Terrace Drive location since late October, and in July the Roseville Council granted Pour Decisions a special “taproom liquor license” to allow it to sell beer without selling food from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
But the cost of a taproom liquor license was not discussed by the council, and city staff are saying it will cost the same as the license for restaurants. (Bars are prohibited in Roseville, and a city statute gives a wine-only license a reduced fee.)
Pour Decisions co-founder Kristen England is upset about the decision, and wrote an angry missive to city staff.
“You should know that at $7,200 for the year Roseville has one, if not THE, most highest fee in the know universe for a taproom,” he wrote. “This is a great way to ensure breweries do not make Roseville their home.”
Chris Miller, Roseville’s finance director, said he reviewed the brewery’s request for a lower taproom fee with city manager Bill Malinen.
“The city manager and I put our heads together and we couldn’t come up with a compelling reason to give them a reduced fee, but they can see if the council’s interested in lowering their fee,” Miller said. “It does lead us down into a situation where all the other license holders, I would imagine, would be able to come up with their own rationale as to why they should pay less as well.”
England has said that the brewery will likely open its 22-seat taproom from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and he argues that a full-restaurant liquor license is unaffordable for the reduced hours (and revenues) of a small brewery.
“The Roseville license is a full liquor license allowing beer, wine, liquor, etc., etc.,” he said. “Per state statute, breweries are only allowed to sell and serve the product that they make in-house, e.g. their own beer.”
England said that Roseville’s fees are out of synch with other Twin Cities municipalities, noting that a small brewery in Minneapolis would be charged only $1,400 a year for a liquor license.
“Roseville’s taproom fee is $2,000 higher than even Minneapolis would charge for a strip club, which is their very most expensive class,” he said.
England said he is requesting that the Roseville Council reconsider the taproom fee, but he doesn’t expect them to change it any time soon.
“The worst part about this is this should have been taken care of by them at the inception of the new taproom license,” he said. “Now it’s looking like we won’t be able to do it until after the holidays, which is a huge cashflow for us.”
Read England’s letter to city staff, written after Pour Decisions was informed it would have to pay the full liquor license fee:
I'm very disappointed to hear this, evermore the fact that it took so long for Roseville to discuss it between themselves and ultimately not bring us into that conversation.
Affordability has absolutely nothing to do with how any license should be dis/approved. It has to do with 'worth' of the license. I was trying to make the point of a restaurant vs a taproom. Hours, ability to sell various wares, etc etc. Seeing that Roseville decision has been made, you should know that at $7200 for the year Roseville has one, if not THE, most highest fee in the know universe for a taproom. This is a great way to ensure breweries do not make Roseville their home.
I will definitely be bringing this before the board with all the pertinent fee schedule examples which I would have provided to you if Roseville would have bothered communicating with us.
That being siad, here is a simple example:
Minneapolis taproom fee schedule:
Per Minneapolis we would be Class E with the fee being nearly $1,400 (inc sunday). On the opposite end, their most expensive license, which is basically the fee for an adult strip club, is still nearly $2000 under what Roseville has deemed appropriate for a taproom.
I wished we could have worked closely together to ensure a great partnership for years to come and encourage more small business to the area with thoughtful discussion that would benefit all.
Dr. Kristen England
Pour Decisions Brewing Co