Stevens Square liquor license stalls

A liquor license application for Singapore's Food and Music Caf, 1835 Nicollet Ave. S., is on hold until owners rework management plans, said Minneapolis Police Sgt. Kent Warnberg, the city's liquor investigator.

The owners of La Nouvelle Paris Restaurant, a French and Asian food restaurant, have proposed changing the restaurant's name to Singapore's, changing the menu and adding a bar with recorded music, a small dance floor, karaoke and occasional specialty bands, he said.

Kalin Dao and her parents had owned La Nouvelle, which opened in late

February 2002, she said. It has been closed since Dec. 8 for remodeling.

Ownership is now split 50-50 between Dao's father, Nghia Dao, and Rod Johnson, owner of Augie's, 424 Hennepin Ave., a downtown topless bar, said Phil Schliesman, who works with city liquor licensing.

The city reviews business financing for all liquor license applications. The review includes tracking the start-up money at least two years prior to the application -- making sure it is from legitimate sources -- and assuring the establishment has a workable business plan.

La Nouvelle unsuccessfully applied for a liquor license when it first opened, Warnberg said. He had raised concerns about "financial irregularities," he said, and the owners eventually withdrew the application.

Kalin Dao said the city's concern was over how much of the business start-up was paid for on a credit card.

Warnberg said he has concerns about Singapore's liquor license application. La Nouvelle had been open sporadically, and he questions the ability of La Nouvelle management. He said when he told Kalin Dao his concerns, she told him Johnson would take over the management, he said.

Kalin Dao said her family may sell a larger percentage of the business to Johnson, but nothing is final. Johnson did not return a call to Angies.

Some in the neighborhood raised concerns. Kelly O'Brien, owner of Zero Proof, a drug-free, alcohol-free coffee shop on the block, said it could hurt his business. Doug Kress, executive director of the Stevens Square Community Organization, said the restaurant's plans seemed to be in flux.