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Woodbury set to approve BSC restaurant, liquor license becomes separate request

Woodbury will move ahead with an independent full scale restaurant at the new Bielenberg Sports Center (BSC) after hashing out details of the lease agreement over the past few weeks.

City Council is set to approve the lease with Gartner Restaurant Holdings (GRH), which also owns establishments in Stillwater, at the regular meeting next week.

In advance of final approval, members of the council discussed the lease at a workshop Wednesday, where Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley said it made the most sense to separate the liquor license portion of the agreement from the commercial lease conditions.

City officials were previously concerned about alcohol sales since the facility mainly serves youth athletic groups. By looking at the lease as a “business transaction” where the city is the landlord and GRH is the tenant, it provides conditions for both scenarios.

“You really have to think about the business lease outside of this one narrow issue,” Gridley said of the liquor license.

But he also said since the new and improved BSC is set out to draw opportunities for large events and conventions, having alcohol there will “drive the rental and the kind of client we can attract.”

The city will treat GRH like any other establishment that comes before the council for a liquor license request. The requests are usually made in March every year.

“The liquor license will be a separate defined vote at a later date,” Gridley said.

However, the designs and detailed plans for the restaurant will come before the council in September.

Designs will likely have features intended for alcohol sales at the restaurant that will be located on the second level of BSC.

At that time, council members will have time to express their views on the issue, well ahead of the liquor license request in March, which will give GRH ample time to make modifications, Gridley said.

According to the lease agreement, with a liquor license the city will receive 12 percent of gross sales up to $1 million and 10 percent beyond the $1 million. If at any time GRH forfeits, cancels or has its alcohol sales permit suspended or canceled, rent due shall be 10 percent of all gross sales.

Additionally, the company would pay $42,000 per year in case it defaults on any lease term.

Gridley said the addition of an establishment licensed to serve alcohol at a city-owned facility would be “groundbreaking for Woodbury.”

“There are many cities that draw significant revenue from their liquor stores,” he said.

City Council Member Christopher Burns, who previously had concerns regarding alcohol sales at BSC, said the agreement provides clear and concise expectations.

“Overall I really like the changes,” he said, however, “I still find the liquor issue challenging.”

But the agreement doesn’t necessarily give the restaurant authority to serve alcohol until a final vote is taken and the license is issued, which is “a nice artful way of addressing the two of us who had concerns,” he added of his and Council Member Amy Scoggins’ hesitation.

Greg Gartner and Bill Kulesa, owners of the company that started as a home-based business, also operate Mara Mi Care and Store in Stillwater and the Chill Zone concessions in the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center.

The city received one other proposal and selected Gartner as the most suitable candidate.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.