City Slaps Surdyk’s With Suspension For Sunday Sales
Twin Cities residents were puzzled when Surdyk’s threw open its doors on Sunday. Was this a joke?
It turns out it wasn’t. The Northeast Minneapolis liquor and cheese store openly flouted the Sunday sales ban that remains in effect until this summer. For its act of civil disobedience, the store had lines out the door, plenty of press coverage.
“We just decided to open up,” Jim Surdyk, owner of the business, told the Star Tribune. “We’re here, we’re busy, it’s great. People are happy to be here.”
But not everyone was happy. A city inspector slapped the store with a $3,500 fine. Then, on Monday, the city reduced the fine that Surdyk owed the city to $2,000 but also slapped a 30-day suspension of his liquor license, effective July 2.
That date, nearly four months into the future, is no accident. The bill that lawmakers passed this session, ending Minnesota’s over 150-year ban on Sunday liquor sales, goes into effect on July 1—and the first Sunday of the month is July 2.
City officials confirmed that the date was chosen both as a symbolic measure and to provide Jim Surdyk with enough time to appeal the decision.
“When penalties were being discussed, July 2 was a date in mind because it’ll be the first day stores can legally sell liquor on Sunday in Minnesota,” Casper Hill, a media relations coordinator for the City of Minneapolis, told TCB in an email. “We needed to set a date a few months out to allow time for all potential appeals and hearings that may be needed. The July 2 date serves that purpose.”
Any appeal could go all the way to the city council, though the situation is unique, making it hard to find precedent.
“This sort of suspension has not been given to another Minneapolis off-sale liquor retailer in recent memory,” Hill said.
Still, there are signs that the council could soften or alter the punishment to alleviate any pain felt by workers who could be out of a job for a month. Councilmember Jacob Frey, who represents the area where Surdyk’s is located, tweeted, “Knowingly disregarding the law has a significant price tag, which should be paid by the owner, not the employees who had no part in the decision.”
In a reply to someone who pressed him on how to punish the owner without inflicting harm on workers, Frey said that the city could impose a fine or string the required closure dates out over time.