Liquor retailing in Bloomington

Significant community discussion took place in the late 1950s about allowing on- and off-sale liquor retailing in Bloomington as part of the City's long-term strategic vision for encouraging the development of a significant competitive commercial and industrial sector. This discussion, and numerous other discussions since, have led to today's Bloomington, with 50% of its tax base in commercial and industrial property – including off-sale liquor licenses as well as on-sale licenses for restaurants, food services, and hotels.

Healthy competition is key to Bloomington's success. In order to ensure a level playing field for those in the liquor retailing business, Bloomington has a strong history of license holders operating within a well-established legal framework. A significant part of this includes the reviewing of applications (new applications and renewals) to determine whether those who apply have a reputable record for conducting their businesses within the legal framework, be it in Bloomington, in Minnesota, or in other locales in the United States.

Liquor license application process

Completed applications are received by the City of Bloomington's Licensing Division and generally take 8 - 10 weeks for processing.

All officers in the corporation holding the prospective license and all persons owning more than a 5% interest in the license must fill out an application and undergo a criminal background check. The business and personal financials of the applicants are reviewed, as are any contracts or leases. This level of detail is necessary to understand the identity of the true owners and operators of the business, to reveal disqualified or ineligible applicants, and to make certain that the applicants are suitable to run this highly regulated business in compliance with all applicable laws by looking at their licensing history. Most applicants have been local business owners who have conducted business only in the state. With out-of-state, large chain liquor sellers the review process can be lengthier.

Once staff has reviewed the application, it is scheduled for consideration by the City Council, after a notification of hearing is published in the Bloomington Sun Current ten days prior to the hearing date.

Once approved by the City Council, the application is sent to the State of Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Alcohol & Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED). Depending on the type of license, AGED may also require an inspection of the completed premises before the State approves their portion of the license. In any case, a license is not released until the establishment is complete.