Crooked Pint developer seeking support for parking plan

EAST HARRIET — The developer of the proposed Crooked Pint Ale House at 40th & Lyndale is gaining more signatures to rezone a residential lot for parking. But if he can’t collect the required signatures, he has a backup plan: a smaller restaurant with later hours and parking positioned on the corner.

“I’m excited either way, because something is going to come,” said owner Paul Dzubnar.

Residents weighed the proposals at a May 21 neighborhood meeting called by Council Members Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) and Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward).

“It’s not great, but it’s not that bad. It could be worse,” said one attendee. “What alarmed me were the alternate plans. A parking lot in front — how is that better?”

“Plan B is a scare tactic,” said Art Quinn, who lives near the site. “It’s just a negotiation game.”

Catherine Turner lives a few blocks away from the restaurant, and said a corner parking lot would be ugly, similar to Pizza Luce’s parking lot at 32nd & Lyndale. But she supported the original site plan. Located near a bike route, the restaurant would probably draw nearby patrons rather than a rowdier “Uptown” clientele, she said.

“This is another place for our neighborhood residents to congregate,” she said.

Pat Hilden, district supervisor of Regulatory Services for Minneapolis, said Crooked Pint must have a “charter wine” liquor license, which requires patrons who want an alcoholic beverage to order a full meal — popcorn wouldn’t cut it. Other restaurants with a similar license include King’s Wine Bar at 45th & Grand and Blackbird at 38th & Nicollet. Seventy percent of sales must come from food, rather than alcohol, and the kitchen must stay open until closing time.

“The only thing they can have there is charter wine. Period,” Hilden said. “It allows restaurants in a neighborhood as an amenity. … It’s not meant as a neighborhood bar.”

Plans for the Crooked Pint are drawing an emotional response from neighbors who live near the site. Nearby residents expressed concerns about noise (some said the area is very quiet today); potential smoking on the patio; late-night hours; and the smell of fried food.

Resident Jessica Schroeter said many area apartment buildings already create a crowded parking situation.

“We as residents don’t feel protected,” she said. “The streets are going to be bulging with cars.”

“What we’re asking is to make him fit into the neighborhood,” said Phil Waugh, who shares a fence with the restaurant site. “We have to stand up to this.”

Council members said they want residents to understand the city’s regulatory limitations for the site, part of which is zoned for commercial space.

“What’s the chance of getting something better? Ask yourself,” said Tuthill, who said she has fielded calls from people who have long wanted a business on the corner.

The former SuperAmerica station shut down in 2006.

“It’s a big change after having nothing there,” Glidden said. “It is emotional; it is change; it is a big deal.”