City ordinance decision ends bar event

Council hears from bar owner

Jill Schramm/MDN Minot Police Chief John Klug, left, speaks to the council regarding an ordinance interpretation affecting The Drop Zone and its owner Anthony Barrette, in front.

A Minot business owner is claiming thousands of dollars in losses due to the city’s interpretation of its ordinance regarding sexually explicit performances.

Anthony Barrette, owner of the downtown bar, The Drop Zone, asked the Minot City Council Monday for clarification regarding the city’s decision that a proposed Girls Night Out event could not be held due to conflict with the ordinance. The male performance was scheduled for tonight at The Drop Zone but was relocated to Velva.

Barrette said the company bringing in the event reported it has worked in areas with ordinances similar to the one in Minot. It brought a performance to Bismarck this past weekend.

“I believe we were going to be within the ordinance, and then for some reason, without actually seeing the event or seeing any versions of the event, I was told I couldn’t have it. Probably lost at least $5,000 in initial revenue and then tens of thousands throughout the year because of more advertising that was going to be for my business,” he added. “There was a lot of money and effort and time put into this. Literally four days before it was supposed to happen, I had to cancel. There’s a lot of people on social media very angry.”

Police Chief John Klug told the council that initial advice on March 2 was that the event didn’t fit within the ordinance. However, he said the city sought clarification on the intent of the council when the ordinance restricting certain establishments to industrial zones was passed in 2017. Further review indicated the event might fit, and The Drop Zone was informed last Friday that it could go forward, only to be told differently two hours later, after another look at the ordinance confirmed the original decision.

City Attorney Stefanie Stalheim said a section of the city’s liquor ordinance states that nudity, semi-nudity and sexually explicit acts are prohibited in a licensed premise.

“It’s our understanding that this could be concerning with the event,” she said.

Barrette said performers were to remain covered to the extent required by the ordinance.

Council member Carrie Evans said her investigation into the company involved raised problematic elements related to interaction with the audience during performances.

Barrette said he called about three or four weeks before the event to ask whether a special permit was required, which is when he learned the event may not be allowed.

Stalheim said the timeframe was inadequate for the amount of research needed on the ordinance.

“We did have to do some research. We have to do that and also balance our other duties and responsibilities at the 11th hour when events like these come up that aren’t initially brought forward to us before they’re booked,” Stalheim said.

Klug suggested businesses address potential ordinance conflicts early in their planning processes.

“I just would publicly say if you’re planning on doing business that may be in question, please contact us first so we don’t have to deny something and shut it down. We can tell you if it fits or not,” Klug said.

He compared The Drop Zone’s dilemma to a similar situation two weeks ago in which a denied alcohol license transfer left the license holder scrambling to accommodate scheduled events. The council had determined Duckpond Ventures’ event-centered business model didn’t fit within the city’s alcohol licensing ordinance because its small space in the Regency didn’t meet the requirement for a licensed premises.

Duckpond Ventures and owner Jon Lakoduk returned Monday with an amended request for a different licensed premises design that met requirements for a transfer from the former Dad’s/Saul’s bar.

The council approved the license transfer. Next month, the council will discuss potential amendments to the alcohol ordinance, including specifically addressing licenses for event-centered businesses.


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