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Northern Minn. resort owner drops liquor license request
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Jon Enger, MPR News,
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A northern Minnesota resort owner has withdrawn his application for a liquor license, citing pressure from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Chris Freudenberg, who owns Roger's Resort near the Red Lake reservation, recently asked the Beltrami County Board for a liquor store license. But tribal leaders opposed his application on the grounds that a store at the resort would be too close to their boundaries, where liquor is not sold.

Red Lake leaders argued a liquor store so close to the reservation would complicate the tribe's longtime struggle against alcoholism. They also asked for commissioners to approve a buffer zone around the reservation where any new liquor sales would be banned.

But Freudenberg withdrew his application shortly before the county board's scheduled Tuesday night vote on his request. As a result, county commissioners also will not consider the tribe's buffer zone request.

"My first response was to dig into a trench and fight," Freudenberg said. "But when you sit back and think, the tribe has a point."

Freudenberg originally wanted to set up a liquor store to reduce liability insurance costs by keeping his guests off the road when they ran out of beer. He thought the store would prevent drunk driving accidents, but hadn't thought about the reservation.

As it is illegal to possess alcohol on the reservation, tribe members buying from Roger's might drink their purchases before heading home. "That would just undo what I was trying to do," he said.

Instead, Freudenberg plans to set up a heated beer storage room at the resort, so his guests can bring extra beer and not worry about the cans freezing in mid-winter.

He later plans to apply for a license to sell drinks in a small restaurant and bar that is under construction at the resort. That type of license gives a bartender much more control over who drinks and how much is consumed, he said.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at minnesota.publicradio.org.


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