After city investigation, Sally's Saloon stops after-midnight drink deals

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Sally's Saloon, a popular watering hole within a drunkard's walk of University of Minnesota student housing, has agreed to change its practices after multiple incidents involving fake IDs, underage drinkers, and public drunkenness.

The city of Minneapolis determined that Sally's had insufficient protections against under-21 customers sneaking past its lax security, according to a March 29 settlement signed by the After Midnight Group, the ownership team behind Sally's, which also operates Cowboy Jack's, Cowboy Slim's, the Cabooze, and the Joint Bar.

In light of those findings, Sally's has agreed to purchase technology to scan the ID cards of every customer who crosses its doorstep on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Sally's also has to stop offering discounted drinks from midnight to 2 a.m. bar close.

During a June 2017 inspection, city employees determined a person drinking beer at Sally's "appeared to be under 21." Asked to produce his ID, the customer handed them what was found to be a fake Minnesota driver's license. The license wasn't much of a fake: The face was different than the person the inspectors were talking to.

That same night, inspectors observed the bouncer working the door wasn't using an ID scanner, as Sally's was required to "per their [licensing] conditions." Inspectors asked to see surveillance video from that night, and were denied: The video system was "not recording properly," and was never set up to do so, according to the settlement.

After failing that check-up, Sally's was implicated in two underage drinking incidents on a single night in July. In one, around 1 a.m., a young woman tried walking into traffic, against a red light. She "stumbled twice and could barely keep her balance," as observed by two nearby University of Minnesota police officers, who approached the woman and learned she'd just come from Sally's.

She was found to be in possession of not one, but two fake IDs from Pennsylvania; her real ID revealed she was 20 years old. The woman blew a .309 blood alcohol level (approaching four times the legal drunk-driving limit, not to mention near-fatal levels of alcohol poisoning) on a breathalyzer test, and was taken to detox.

About a half-hour later, a group of young men were seen "walking in the middle of the street," with one of them "carrying a can of Grain Belt beer." He was found to have a real Minnesota identification, but admitted it wasn't his, and said he'd used it to get into Sally's. Another young man had a fake ID -- like the woman found earlier, his was from Pennsylvania -- which he said had got him past Sally's bouncer. They blew a .267 and .187, respectively, on breathalyzer tests.

Sally's paid fines related to these incidents, but that wasn't enough for the city of Minneapolis, which called the business in for a meeting about its liquor license. In a January conference with owners, one idea on the table would've seen Sally's be forced to honor a 1 a.m. bar close, cutting off its last hour of operation.

Instead, owners agreed to a raft of conditions, including:

  • ID scanners in use at the door from 8 p.m. to close, Thursday through Saturday nights
  • Installing a new video surveillance system that records 24/7, and stores footage for a month
  • Seizing all fake IDs they find, turning them over to Minneapolis police, and putting the (real) names of anyone who tried to use them on a list
  • Training for servers and bouncers, including on "how to look for signs of intoxication," and "de-escalation"
  • Sally's will hire two off-duty cops to provide security from 10:30 p.m. to close, every Friday and Saturday
  • Sally's will "not move tables and chairs in the business when crowds get large"
  • Sally's "will not offer drink specials from 12 a.m. to close."

Representatives of the city and Sally's agreed to the settlement, which also calls for Sally's to conduct a monthly "self-audit" and report those results, on March 29. Failure to follow its rules could mean "further suspension, revocation, or denial" of Sally's liquor license.

Sally's and the After Midnight Group did not respond to requests for comment.


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