Mounds View grants liquor license to movie theater


Though its signs haven’t changed yet, the former Carmike Wynnsong 15 in Mounds View is now owned by New Vision Theatres, a company based out of Westfield, New Jersey. Under its new name — Mounds View 15 — the theater will soon begin selling alcoholic drinks to moviegoers. Jesse Poole/photo

Mounds View has just one movie theater, and with its population of 13,000 residents, and a geographical area of approximately four square miles, Mayor Carol Mueller says “that makes sense.”

But just because there’s no big-screen competition directly within Mounds View, that doesn’t mean there’s no competition. There are plenty of options for moviegoers within a short drive from anywhere in the suburb.

For that reason, Mounds View’s theater, which recently changed hands — it’s no longer Carmike Wynnsong 15 — asked the city for a liquor license.

Under its new name and ownership — though the signs haven’t yet changed — New Vision Theatres’ Mounds View 15 wants to sell alcoholic beverages to adults.

“We have a lot of theaters within a five-mile trade radius and a couple already have licenses to serve alcohol,” Mueller said in an interview. “We want to help give them the tools they need to succeed and stay competitive,” she said of the theater, located in the 2400 block of Mounds View Boulevard. “We don’t want them to fail.”

In order to grant New Vision’s request, the city council had to change a city ordinance, allowing movie theaters to be added to the list of establishments able to obtain on-sale liquor licenses.

At its Sept. 25 meeting, the council unanimously decided to add movie theaters to the list, which also includes hotels, restaurants, bowling alleys and liquor stores.

Mueller explained that when New Vision purchased the theater — which has earned a reputation for its affordability over the years — it did so with renovations and upgrades in mind.

According to Mueller, to help cover the cost of things like an updated projection system, the theater told the city that liquor sales would help offset the expenses.

“They think they can do a first-class upgrade to the theater if they have a liquor license,” she said. “From my experience on the council and now as mayor, our city staff has always been extremely helpful and visionary when it comes to serving the needs of the community. They looked at it and they did their research,” she said, noting city staff recommended the council fulfill New Vision’s request.

 

Sip at the show

While no residents spoke out against the ordinance change during the Sept. 25 council meeting, one concern the council considered was safety and security.

Mueller herself asked City Planner Jon Sevald, “Do we know how the theater will enforce the policy of not serving alcohol to minors?”

Sevald turned that question over to Grant Erwin, a representative for the theater, who had an answer on hand.

“Like with any on-sale liquor establishment, there will be protocols in place that will be required training for all employees to ensure that minors aren’t sold to, to recognize signs of impairment and not over-serve,” Erwin said.

As that relates to inside the theaters themselves, he said, revenues of the sales will likely help pay for the hire of additional employees to walk through the theaters to monitor drinking activity.

“I’ve been to theaters that serve alcohol and I never really thought too much about it,” Mueller said. “I don’t think someone’s ability to enjoy a beverage at a movie that might enhance that individual’s experience would infringe on my enjoyment of the movie.”

According to Sevald, Mounds View 15 won’t be alone in its serving of booze.

“There are a number of similar movie theaters that have liquor licenses within the north metro,” he said, mentioning ones in Coon Rapids, Oakdale and White Bear Lake.

Asked if the ordinance change — seen as a provision for movie theaters in general — might lure a second theater to someday situate itself in Mounds View, Mueller said, “I don’t think our small trade area would be able to support another theater.”

The theater, currently open and under new management, could be selling alcohol by November.

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815



 

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