With prohibition lifted Duluth.com checks out where to get your drink on
By Andrea Busche
As our compadres in other states are livin’ la vida loca and legally smokin’ the Ganj for recreation as well as medicine, we find it odd to be writing about alcohol prohibition in 2016. But, here we are, Duluth.
The Lakeside/Lester Park community has recently been granted the right to sell alcoholic beverages. That’s right; on June 27th, 2016, after 123 years of prohibition, it became legal to sell liquor out East. Today, we’ll explore the history of this rule, as well as provide an update on where you can get your drink on when visiting Lakeside.
History of Prohibition
The prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the Lakeside/Lester Park community dates back to the 1890s. Here is the original order making it so, from the 27th Session of the Minnesota State Legislature, Chapter XII, Section 5:
“The common council of the City of Duluth is hereby prohibited from ever granting any license to sell or dispose of any wines, spirituous or malt liquors within the limits of the territory hereby constituted as the city of Lakeside, after the same shall have been annexed to the said city of Duluth in accordance with the provisions of this act.”
The proper gentlemen of the day must have really wanted booze to be outlawed; this rule was eventually written into state law, making it significantly trickier to overturn.
This issue has continued to be a mild inconvenience for the Lakeside community for the last century. Prohibition means we have had to continue traveling outside our fine neighborhood to purchase spirits. The closest liquor store is Lake Aire Bottle Shoppe at 2530 London Road … so, a little more than a mile away from 40th Avenue East, which is typically considered the beginning of Lakeside.
A couple of previous attempts to lift this restriction were defeated. In fact, the good folks of Lakeside defeated the last attempt in 2008 … by just one vote.
At long last, the Duluth City Council passed the measure to allow alcohol sales in June 2016 by a five to three vote, officially repealing the ban on the issuance of liquor licenses in Lakeside and Lester Park. At the City Council’s request, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a special bill that would remove any unique restrictions on the sale of alcohol and Mark Dayton signed it into law on June 1st.
Ce-le-brate Good Times, Come on!
You might think that repealing a 123-year-old prohibition on booze would send local businesses into a frenzy to be able to sell alcohol to patrons. But that hasn’t really been the case.
As of now, there is only one business in Lakeside, Amity Coffee, that is now legally licensed to sell alcohol, along with their regular commodities, such as coffee wraps, sandwiches and baked goods.
Amity was the first business to apply for, and be granted, a beer and liquor license. Co-owner Patti Swank shares they are now happy to offer local craft beers (Castle Danger, Bent Paddle, Freewheeler Cider and Insight), as well as a selection of quality wines, to its customers. For a variety of reasons, they opted not to pursue the sale of harder spirits.
“After 123 years of prohibition, as the first business to be granted a license, we really wanted to do it right,” Swank says. “We’re trying to do it in as classy a way as we possibly can.”
She continues, “People love it. It’s been a very positive addition for us. Folks come in and enjoy having one or two glasses of wine with friends, and most people walk home.”
The repeal has been great for business; Amity Coffee has expanded its hours to accommodate the bit of increased traffic. It has also added a trivia night to the calendar, held the first Thursday of every month. A pint of craft beer or a nice glass of cab makes trivia so much more fun! Amity also offers live music on Friday nights.
We also checked in with several other Lakeside businesses. Here’s what we discovered:
Super One grocery store continues to be allowed to sell 3.2 beer and malt beverages, but not “regular” alcohol. There is only one liquor license allowed per business, per city and they already have a liquor license for Super One Liquor in West Duluth.
Sammy’s Pizza has had the opening of its new Superior restaurant as a top priority for a while. For now, at least, Sammy’s is not sure if it will apply for a license.
And, as of this writing, after multiple attempts, we weren’t able to reach leadership at Expresstop, Lester Park Golf Course or New London Café.
The Sky Hasn’t Fallen
Although banned for well over a century, it ended up being sort of anticlimactic when liquor sales were finally allowed in the Lakeside community. With many patrons wisely choosing to responsibly walk to, and from, the establishment or limit their alcohol intake to a single glass of wine, it’s been smooth sailing thus far.
So, bottoms up, Lakeside! Cheers to finally earning your license to serve after all these years.