Suspension and fine also imposed by Crystal City Council
Faced with the situation of a new business owner who didn’t understand the nuances, paperwork requirements and fees associated with selling liquor in the state of Minnesota, the members of the Crystal City Council struggled but eventually found solutions for how to keep the owner in business and also impose penalties.
David Kruger, the new owner of Crystal Wine and Spirits, 4920 West Broadway, addressed the council to apologize for his lack of timely action in securing the needed paperwork and licenses and for any inconvenience his lack of action may have caused city officials.
City Clerk Chrissy Serres introduced the issue to the council, saying that Kruger purchased the liquor store on June 25, but that he did not submit an application for a new off-sale liquor license at that time.
It wasn’t until late October that the city and Kruger connected on the need for the license application.
“Mr. Kruger has since submitted a new off-sale liquor license application and applicable fees,” Serres told the council at the Nov. 19 meeting. “Staff has reviewed the application and a background check was completed by the police department.”
However, she noted for the council that operating a liquor business without the proper licenses is a violation of state laws and city ordinances.
Serres said a notice of violation was mailed to Kruger Nov. 7 regarding the potential for the city to impose civil penalties for the violations.
Two matters were considered by the council: Approving the submitted liquor license and deciding whether to impose a suspension and fine.
City attorney Troy Gilchrist said the council could approve the application as submitted, approve the application with penalties or deny approval of the license.
The council had the authority to impose up to a 60-day suspension and impose up to a $2,000 fine.
Kruger approached the podium to discuss the issue.
When asked directly if he had been operating the store from June through October without the proper licenses, he said, “yes."
“I was under the impression that I would use the prior applications until I was approved,” Kruger said.
“I thought I dropped off the packet, but I didn’t drop off a check. When I knew what was needed, I went out and got everything [the city clerk] needed,” he added.
Kruger, who was an employee of the store before buying it in June, said he owns the inventory, but that there is a third-party owner of the building.
Councilmember Julie Deshler began the discussion by saying that if one was going to buy a business, that they should look into the process and the requirements.
“I thought I had everything in to the city,” Kruger told her. “I guess I totally screwed things up here and put a lot of people in a bad place,” he added.
Continuing to try and make sense with the failure in communication, Deshler said, “I’m really disappointed you didn’t stay on top of the license.”
When asked if he had sought out the services of an attorney, Kruger said that he had not.
Deshler also asked if he had taken advantage of the services the city offers to small businesses, and he again said he had not.
“I’m a proponent of small business,” Deshler said. “I’m more inclined to say, ‘please check with us and if you goof up again ...’ I want to believe in people so bad and want to give him a chance.”
After several minutes of council discussion, the council approved Kruger’s liquor license application and a 10-day suspension and $2,000 fine.
In concluding, the mayor told Kruger that the council would not tolerate any more violations.
“We recommend that your employees know about the transition that took place and to not put your business in jeopardy,” Adams told Kruger.
“I understand,” Kruger said.