Rochester considers allowing liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m.
Rochester may soon fall into line with just about every other municipality in Minnesota by allowing liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m.
City Council Member Michael Wojcik plans to introduce a provision on Aug. 17 that would lift all local restrictions on off-sale liquor. Stores would then only have to follow the state law, which allows sales Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Rochester currently requires liquor stores to close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 p.m. on Friday; and 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Wojcik told us that he expects an "easy 7-0 vote" when the proposal comes forward.
It's unclear when or why Rochester enacted additional restrictions on alcohol sales. The Post-Bulletin's "Answer Man" looked into it a few years back but didn't come away with much:
I've never gotten a satisfactory answer as to why the city requires liquor stores to close so early on weekdays. You can't buy a bottle of wine after 8 p.m. and bring it back to the hotel or home. Yet, bar patrons in Rochester are permitted to order drinks until 1 a.m. and then get in their cars and drive home. Whenever this comes up I've been told only that it works just fine this way, so why change?
Wojcik's proposal would also allow microbreweries to sell growlers every day until 10 p.m. Back in May, the council approved an ordinance revision allowing the sale of 64-ounce glass containers on Sundays.
Despite an annual debate in the Minnesota Legislature, all other liquor sales — with the exception of lousy 3.2 percent beer — are still prohibited on Sundays in Minnesota.