Visitors to Lake Harriet will soon be able to enjoy a couple of beers with the summer music shows that draw people to the lake on summer evenings.
The City Council's regulatory committee voted Monday to approve a wine and beer license for Bread & Pickle, the lake's two-year-old eatery adjacent to the band shell. The action is subject to approval from the full council, expected on May 10.
Two other park eateries, Sea Salt at Minnehaha Falls and Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun, already serve alcohol. Owner Kim Bartmann said it will likely take between four and six weeks before they can start serving.
The plan requires the restaurant to install a series of benches and planters to designate where drinking is allowed (see diagram). Customers will need to order food to purchase alcohol. A staff report says Bartmann plans to have indoor seating for 25 people and outdoor seating for 108 people.
Bread & Pickle isn't yet open for the summer season because of the extended cold weather. Bartmann said they plan to open by at least Mother's Day.
The alcohol plan didn't pass without criticism. Several people expressed concern during public testimony about congestion and the implication of more drinking in public parks.
"This area is going to be taken over by the drinking crowd. Period," said Bob Carney, a perennial candidate for mayor and other offices.
"I fear that cluttering up the area with the required planters will create barriers and congestion for parents with kids in strollers, people walking dogs, and individuals who may be using wheelchairs or scooters," said Arlene Fried, a founder of the watchdog group Park Watch.
The Park Board, which operates separately from the City Council, supported the application earlier this month in a 5 to 4 vote. In the process, they scaled back the area where alcohol would be allowed.
Council members who supported the plan Monday said they were respecting the Park Board's autonomy.
"The public and the city of Minneapolis... has been very clear in saying that they want a public body that is responsible for making decisions about the parks system," said council member Elizabeth Glidden, the committee chair.
"This is their decision to make," said Council Member Lisa Goodman. "And we are not in a position to be overriding them on a close vote. That seems a little political to me."
The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council supported the license application. An online petition supporting alcohol at Bread & Pickle has 556 signatures.
[Top photo: Star Tribune]