The Duluth City Council will take up a resolution Tuesday that would reduce the fees local bars and restaurants must pay to serve alcohol to their clientele.
A 20% reduction in on-sale liquor license fees is being proposed in recognition of the economic blow these businesses have sustained due to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, Duluth City Clerk Chelsea Helmer explained.
"We have been working closely with a lot of our local businesses," she said. "This has been a very challenging time for everyone, and we are bringing forward a proposal for the City Council to consider, specifically targeted toward our on-sale liquor licensees, so that is: Bars and restaurants that have been particularly challenged with a lot of the mandated closures.
"We hope that will provide some support and some needed relief for those businesses," Helmer said.
Brian Daugherty, president of Grandma's Restaurant Co. Inc., praised the move to reduce liquor license fees.
"Any time we're given some grace here is needed and appreciated," he said.
Although Grandma's has managed to continue to do some business offering curbside service, Daugherty explained that cash is extremely tight.
"I haven't paid invoices that I owe people on for 2 1/2 months. And I'm not alone," he said.
Helmer said city administration strove to "find a balance between the economic impact that these businesses are feeling in addition to recognizing that the city is still carrying on with administration and enforcement, although there have been some reductions in enforcement, given the nature of the stay-at-home orders."
In addition, she noted that the city has begun to issue more sidewalk-use permits.
"We've had a lot of requests from liquor licensees to look at expanding their outdoor spaces. So, we want to be able to accommodate that within the parameters of what our code requires and also what state law requires, and making necessary adjustments where we're able to," Helmer said.