Last Friday, a shooting left one person dead and three others injured in north Minneapolis, and one local business owner has had enough.
“How much worse can it get when you leave on Friday night, and there’s bullets flying around?” asks Kevin Welch, owner and head brewer at nearby Boom Island Brewing Co. “The motivation is extremely dire for us to get the heck out of the area.”
Currently located at 2014 N. Washington Ave., Boom Island will have a new home by the end of the year, Welch predicts. He's currently scouting locations and plans to launch a crowd-sourced fundraiser to help with expenses.
When Welch started Boom Island, in 2011, he says he hoped to help the neighborhoods around West Broadway grow. He met with local politicians about being part of a transformation; he moved to be closer to his business.
“But it hasn’t changed for the better,” he laments, citing the near-constant presence of gangs, drugs, and guns around his brewery/taproom. Boom Island already closes at 9 p.m. on weekends -- extremely early for drinking establishments -- to avoid trouble for its patrons and employees, Welch says.
“I’m not going to risk our employees dodging bullets," he adds. “It’s not gonna change anytime soon.”
Welch hopes to keep Boom Island anchored in Minneapolis, but the emphasis is on relocating "as soon as possible." The taproom will remain open during regular business hours (4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 1-9 p.m. Saturday; 1-6 p.m. Sunday) for the foreseeable future, Welch says. Boom Island's Belgium-themed roster of beers is also available at liquor stores through the city.
“This is literally all my retirement, all my everything," Welch says of Boom Island. “It was a pretty loud signal what happened on Friday night. That’s motivation -- we gotta get out.”
Violent crime in Minneapolis increased 17 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to the Star Tribune. Shootings in north Minneapolis have declined this year, the Strib reports, but there is growing concern about recent gang activity.
A Minneapolis police spokesperson did not respond to our request for comment regarding crime around West Broadway.