EDITORIAL: St. Cloud City Council justified in rejecting Pickled Loon [St. Cloud Times, Minn.]
(St. Cloud Times (MN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 02--With the intent of using good governance to ensure responsible business practices, the St. Cloud City Council last week correctly rejected a request to open a new restaurant and bar in the former McRudy's building in downtown.
As several council members noted before they unanimously rejected granting a liquor license for The Pickled Loon, there were just too many inconsistencies in what the ownership group told the council Monday night and what their documentation stated.
But here's the good news: Mayor Dave Kleis said the consultant representing the group contacted city officials Thursday to state they planned to re-apply, this time with a change in ownership. No more details had arrived at City Hall by Friday.
Clearly, though, any new application must limit -- if not eliminate -- personnel and ownership ties between The Pickled Loon and McRudy's. In a move not seen in decades, the council this spring rejected McRudy's liquor license due to a host of reasons, most notably repeated violations of public-safety and minor-consumption ordinances.
Yet the plan provided to the council still showed ties to McRudy's.
Of four Pickled Loon owners behind the entity known as MMRB LLC, which made the failed request, was a manager and longtime employee at McRudy's. And to make matters worse, council member Jeff Goerger astutely noted that documentation played up that owner's role for the business plan sent to banks while testimony to the council downplayed it.
Another troubling inconsistency many council members noted was how the group's business plan listed a former McRudy's co-owner as a consultant even though the applicants Monday told council members the co-owner, who also owns the building at 715 St. Germain St., was only an unsecured mortgage holder.
Those are the types of inconsistencies bound to raise eyebrows for any application. And given McRudy's troubled path to closure, these owners and their consultant not only should have expected such scrutiny, they should have addressed it with updated materials presented to the council and the public well in advance of any project deadlines.
That didn't happen so the council was justified in rejecting their plan. Perhaps the silver lining of that move, though, was council members made clear their concerns -- and what it will take to change enough "no" votes to "yes" votes in The Pickled Loon's next application.
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