By Dan Linehan
The Free Press
Bull Pucky's, a forthcoming downtown Mankato bar and restaurant,
will have food that keeps people coming back, owner Beth Steinbach told the
City Council Monday.
They'll have to, considering the city will require the restaurant to have at
least 40 percent of its sales come from food. That requirement for new
downtown eateries isn't specific to Bull Pucky¹s, though this will be the
first restaurant required to submit its sales figures every quarter instead
of annually, Council President Mike Laven said.
Laven voted against the license request because he said the business
wouldn't succeed as a restaurant and would turn into "a place for drinking
"My 30 years in restaurants tells me that this volume cannot go through this
business based on the layout, design and price point," he said.
The city's 2007 liquor license reforms added requirements for food sales
because restaurants that sell more food typically had far fewer police calls
than alcohol-only bars.
But others on the council said that the city had the obligation to give the
owner a chance to try.
"It might be a tough go, but I think it's OK to support someone who wants to
try to make it work here in Mankato,"Councilwoman Tamra Rovney said.
Councilman Mark Frost agreed: "More power to your entrepreneurial spirit."
Mayor Eric Anderson staked out a more moderate tone, saying that he hopes
she succeeds, but that the central issue to him was to have a diverse group
"Recognize that there's kind of a clash that¹s been growing for some time as
to how this goes," he said.
Human Resources Director Krista Amos said the city spoke with a consultant
who said it would be challenging but not impossible to succeed while earning
40 percent of revenue from food sales. The quarterly reporting requirement
was added to help the city and applicant track sales more frequently, she
Bull Pucky's is slated to open later this month in the former location of
Hazzard, which opened in 2009 and closed a year or two later.
Steinbach, a North Mankato resident and basketball player at Minnesota State
University in the early '90s, said she has co-owned Spinners and The
Bull Pucky's gets its name, in part, from a combination of MSU's Maverick
bull mascot and the pucks flying in the nearby hockey arena.
She said it would maintain Hazzard's Southern theme, while adding a bit of
Mexican to the menu.
Steinbach said she knows the difference between restaurants with good and
bad customer service.
And while Laven said he was "troubled" that the restaurant would fail to
succeed as Hazzard did, the building's owner, Shawn Clow, said it was unfair
to judge Bull Pucky's using that yardstick. Clow said Hazzard had good
sales, including food, but closed for other reasons.
After its discussion, the council voted 5-1 to approve the license.
Councilman Jack Considine was absent.