Minneapolis: More liquor sales coming to Central Avenue?

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Just months after a high-end wine and spirits store opened near the Quarry, brothers Dan and Pierre Kerkinni proposed to put a store selling craft beers and unique liquors on the going-home side of Central Avenue. They’d be renting—from the Truelsons—the old Porky’s at 19th Avenue, near the police station.

Windom Park Citizens in Action’s land use committee heard their proposal Jan. 8 and had not quite decided as of press time how to proceed. The group is one of three the Kerkinnis would approach, along with Holland and Logan Park. Though none of them have the ultimate say-so, city council members listen, at least in theory.

A post card for the already-scheduled regular Windom Park neighborhood meeting Jan. 15 had just gone out, with only a mention of a possible update on the proposed store. The committee was leaning toward taking a vote on the 15th.

Why the hurry? The brothers indicated the Minneapolis City Planning Commission would hear their proposal very soon though they were not sure of the date. Neighborhood support would be important there and at the Minneapolis City Council. Every liquor store requires a conditional use permit no matter where it locates, even though the store would be a permitted use in that location. The committee was to ask First Ward Council Member Kevin Reich to ask that the process be delayed until the neighborhood could have a vote.

Committee chair Steve Sylvester said, “Our neighborhood tends to be evenly divided on these issues, I can’t tell you what the outcome would be.” But committee members attending showed skepticism and outright hostility.

“People say the neighborhood is already saturated with liquor stores,” said one. “We just got stuck with Stinson Wine & Spirits.” “which is exactly the kind of store you’re proposing,” said another. “Have you been there?” Some did not see potential for the store to bring shoppers interested in anything else on Central, Pierre disagreed, saying their customers are the type who also enjoy diverse restaurants.

Pierre Kerkinni said their concept represents a niche not represented in the current stores. “Now people have to drive to St. Louis Park for this selection.”

The Kerkinnis said they are from a successful business family not in the liquor business. Their father is a tailor, and they have family friends in the liquor business, for example Roger Mourad of Mourado’s.

They said they would focus on safety at all times, and be selective who they would sell to (not people already under the influence). They would give back to the community by sponsoring events, being active in the neighborhood meetings, helping schools and working with law enforcement on a message of safety. They plan little advertising, just word of mouth and occasional flyering of the neighborhood.

Dan Kerkinni said April or May might be a realistic opening target. They said they had a proposal for a similar concept for 25th and Hennepin Avenue South a couple of years ago, but Kowalski’s beat them to the punch.