Eagan restaurant avoids additional penalties after failing compliance checks

Granite City representatives say the business has beefed up training, policies to avoid future violations

Eagan officials agreed to give a local restaurant another chance after the business failed alcohol compliance checks over four consecutive years, but warned of tougher penalties should the business fail again.

The City Council on Jan. 15 decided against imposing further penalties, such as a license revocation, on Granite City Brewery for failing to abide by liquor laws.

“We don’t take these things lightly,” Council Member Cyndee Fields said. “I think steps have been taken to ensure everyone is trained … but if this happens again, we will go for the full revocation.”

According to city documents, an employee at the bar and restaurant served alcohol to a minor during compliance checks on Dec. 21, 2009, July 5, 2010, and Oct. 24, 2012. Each incident involved a different employee.

The establishment paid a $500 fine for the first offense, a $1,000 fine for the second and a $2,000 fine for the third offense. Granite City also received a 30-day liquor license suspension on Jan. 2 that extends to Jan. 31.

The business violated a separate state law on Sept. 4, 2011, by selling alcohol before 10 a.m. on Sunday, according to city reports. Granite City received a $1,500 fine and a seven-day liquor license suspension for the incident. The business appealed the penalties but was denied.

“Granite City takes this very seriously,” said Matt Forsgren, an attorney representing Granite City. “It not only financially impacts the business but its reputation is impacted. We want to be a good corporate citizen.”

Forsgren noted that the Eagan site has lost about $60,000 due to the 30-day suspension.

Ann Riesner, director of operations at Granite City, assured the council that the restaurant has implemented a company-wide “zero tolerance” policy, which results in employees being immediately fired for breaking liquor laws.

The company has also stepped up its training program by requiring all employees to obtain certification to serve alcohol at the establishment, she said.

“We want to teach responsible alcohol service and show that our name, our brand is important to us,” Riesner said.

Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald noted that Granite City has no major violations aside from the four compliance checks.

“They are a very responsible organization,” he said. “They don’t have a reputation that they serve to minors.”

If Granite City fails another compliance check before July of 2013, it would receive a 30-day suspension and could face an additional 30-day suspension or revocation of its license.

The police department notifies Eagan businesses in a letter of upcoming alcohol and tobacco compliance checks but doesn’t provide a specific date.