Minnesota town bans all-night drink specials

But under a new city ordinance, Blue Bricks cannot serve mass quantities of alcohol and instead has a $2 special tap on Wednesdays, said Ashley Miller, a server at Blue Bricks. ,”

  • Bars in Mankato, Minn., are banned from serving drinking specials after 11 p.m.
  • Bars compete with low prices drink specials, contributing to binge drinking.
  • State Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) proposed to extend the ban state wide.
  • Three recent deaths due to alcohol poisoning in Minnesota spotlighted the issue.

On Wednesday nights in Milwaukee there's "Ladies Night" at Caffrey's Pub, 717 N. 14th St., "Karaoke Night" at Murphy's Irish Pub, 1615 W. Wells St., with $2.75 "Big Ass Beers," and "BYOS" or "Bring Your Own Shoe" at The Corner, 1247 N. Water St., where bar goers can drink for free out of their shoe.

Similarly, on Wednesday nights at Blue Bricks, a bar popular with Minnesota State University Mankato students in Mankato, Minn., used to have "Pitcher Night."

But under a new city ordinance, Blue Bricks cannot serve mass quantities of alcohol and instead has a $2 special tap on Wednesdays, said Ashley Miller, a server at Blue Bricks.

On Jan. 1, a new ordinance took effect mandating Mankato bars cannot serve all night cup specials nor have drink specials after 11 p.m.

Minnesota state Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) said he also hopes to extend the law statewide.

In February 2007, the Mankato City Council began researching the relationship between the number of bars in Mankato and underage drinking, overindulgence and over-serving, said Eileen Wells, city attorney of Mankato, a town in the south central part of Minnesota.

Attention was further given to the issue when Amanda Jax, a former MSU student, died of alcohol poisoning on her 21st birthday after visiting a Mankato bar in October.

Two other deaths from alcoho have occurred in the past months in two other college towns-Winona, in southeastern Minnesota, and St. Cloud, in the central part of the state, said Michael Cooper, interim media relations director at MSU.

"The death of the former student last fall was certainly a tragedy that increased the interest in looking at things that contribute to binge drinking, but that's not when it started," Cooper said.

The number of bars in college towns competing for a small market of students is a major contributor to binge drinking, said Toben Nelson, professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

"The low price and high volume of alcohol leads to heavy drinking," Nelson said.

In the past three or four years, there has been a large influx of bars in Mankato that all compete for the same customers, said Jerry Huettl, director of public safety at MSU.

"This is not a cop problem. This is a society problem," Huettl said.

Cheap drink specials are popular with students, Nelson said.

Nelson said binge drinking is cheaper than going to a movie and the average drink is cheaper than a cup of coffee or bottle of water.

Nelson said the restriction will not solve the entire problem and there are concerns that students will find ways around the policies.

Jim Farrell, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, said the ban might make heavy drinking more attractive. He said his association does not agree with extending the ban statewide.

"It prohibits giving away any free drink and that would encompass a small town bar that has nothing to do with college students," Farrell said.

But Farrell said he understands the need to protect young people from binge drinking.

Nationwide, 44 percent of college students binge drink, Nelson said. The north-central region of the U.S. has a higher average of binge drinking and while Minnesota is high on the list, it is not as high as North Dakota and Wisconsin, he said.

Because the Mankato ordinance just started and MSU students returned to school last week, city officials said they haven't yet seen whether it's effective. But a citywide summit involving university and community leaders that will discuss drinking is planned for next month.