It took faith and some persistence, but the owners of the Red Cedar Wine Bar & Steakhouse have at long last been gotten their wish for a full liquor license.

On Monday, the Menomonie City Council granted the city’s last Class B license to Jim and Brenda Hopkins for their restaurant, located at Exit 45 off Interstate 94. In addition to being able to sell cocktails in addition to wine and beer, Jim Hopkins said in an email that they’re planning to add a new value menu.

Last July, the Hopkins were up against the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts in seeking an available liquor license. The council favored the Mabel Tainter in a 7 to 4 vote. At the same time and on the advice of City Attorney Ken Schofield, the council also renewed El Patio’s retail liquor license, although the restaurant at 1415 North Broadway appeared to be abandoned.

The license expired on June 30, 2012, but an application for renewal was received  from owner Alejandro Castro who said he had plans to reopen the restaurant. He was given six months to use the license or lose it.

At its Feb. 4 meeting, the council revoked El Patio’s license. Seeking the newly available license at the council’s Feb. 18 meeting, Brenda Hopkins said, “I think it would be real helpful for us to be able to stay in business and get some other clientele out there and groups of people that haven’t tried us.”

In addition to the Hopkins’ application, City Clerk JoAnn Kadinger told the council two other parties expressed interest in the $600 license but had not yet applied. Any other interested parties were given until March 15 to apply, with the matter to be considered at the council’s April 1 meeting.

With no other contenders, the council unanimously and with no further discussion granted it to Red Cedar Wine Bar LLC.

In the air and on the ground

The council gave its endorsement to a new two-day AirFest & AutoShow to be held June 21-22 at the Menomonie Municipal Airport. Modeled on a similar family-oriented event in Osceola, activities will include a Friday night car cruise and a one-hour radar run the following afternoon on one of the runways. Aerobatic performances are planned as well as a pancake breakfast, helicopter rides, and kids games.

Jeff Overby, one of the coordinators, asked the city for $2,000 to help defray insurance costs that need to be paid before the event. Council members raised concerns, however, that it would set a precedent for other groups to request insurance coverage by the city.

“I have a little problem with us writing a check for $1,966,” said Alderperson Lee Schwebs. “Is there any way we — since this is a revenue producing event — give a short-term economic loan?”

Instead of providing the funds, the council voted to endorse the event, supply in-kind help in the form of city services — and offer support in raising the funds needed to cover the insurance.

“I applaud anybody who tries to put on an event; it’s hard work,” said Alderperson Mary Solberg. “My concern is fairness.”

Other action

In other business, the council approved the following:

— The final plan for Woodland Ridge Townhomes, a planned unit development of three 8-plex apartments on 21st Street East south of Menomonie Middle School.

— Renewal for 10 years of Menomonie Community Garden group’s agreement with the city to use a two-acre parcel of land in Phelan Park.

— Amendments to the city’s mobile home parks ordinance.

— Executing a contract with CBIZ Benefits and Insurances Services, Inc. for health and dental insurance advising services.

— Financing plan for 2013 capital improvement projects.

— Comprehensive list of special event requests to use city property or facilities.

— 2013 contract agreement between WPPA Local 45 and the city

— Police Department’s 2013 equipment maintenance contract with Two Way Communication.


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