On two occasions, David Burley has tried to get the City of Edina to rescind its restrictions on happy hour. And on two occasions, he has failed.
Burley is the president of Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which owns five restaraunts and one bar in the Twin Cities, including the Edina Grill at 50th & France. Sitting at the bar inside of the Edina restaurant, Burley recounted his fruitless efforts to see happy hour in the city.
“We took two shots at it, the first in 2005 and the second in 2007,” Burley said. “We were voted down both times.”
The city council objected to the proposal both times, as Burley said they had concerns regarding the safety of potentially intoxicated drivers hitting the streets as school let out.
“Since happy hours normally occur about the time kids are getting out of school, there was concern patrons would be a risk to get into driving accidents with school busses,” he added. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for nearly 20 years and in all that time with all those combined happy hours, I have no recollection of one of our patrons going out and hitting a school bus.”
Burley contends that not having the ability to hold a happy hour at his Edina location hurts business.
“Our business is generally good, but from 3 to 5 every weekday there is a hole,” he said.
While the council shot down those proposals only a few years ago, there are some small signs that the current council’s position could be shifting.
Edina Mayor Jim Hovland pointed out that the city also requires alcohol can only be sold in those restaurants which can show that 60 percent of their overall sales are for food.
He did, however, say that he would be willing to revisit the issue.
“I won’t say how I would vote because I don’t want to prejudge the issues until I get all the facts,” he said.
Council member Joni Bennett is firm in her belief the ordinance should stay in effect.
“I have lived here since 1987 and I think we have a good balance when it comes to our liquor laws,” she said. “I also think Edina is free to have a different philosophy on happy hour than the communities which surround us. For right now, I am not willing to look at any change.”
Council newcomer Josh Sprague said he's open to taking a look at the matter.
“I am very much open to reviewing it, especially if we can help local businesses” he said. “We are coming out of a recession and anything reasonable to help any business rejuvenate is good.”
Sprague argues as the demographics of Edina are changing, so should the laws governing the community.
“You go down to 50th & France and you see a younger, more active crowd and that needs to be taken into consideration when looking at topics like this," Sprague said. “The origin of a lot of the current laws and going back to when there was no alcohol served at all, is pretty puritanical and I think those times are long gone.”