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Fosle: From City Hall to the … beer hall? Duluth city councilor considers opening bar | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published January 24, 2013, 12:00 AM

Fosle: From City Hall to the … beer hall? Duluth city councilor considers opening bar

Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle is toying with the idea of opening a bar.

By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune

Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle is toying with the idea of opening a bar.

He recently posted on his Facebook page: “I am thinking of buying a bar and having 25 or so different tap beers on hand from German to craft, along with domestics in bottles and hard liquor. I would like to have five pool tables and 15 dart machines for league play, along with sponsorship to both leagues. I would also have live acoustic music every weekend.”

Fosle followed up with a query. “Here is the question: How many of you would show up and indulge in the festivities? This is a crucial question because without people this will not happen.”

More than 130 people responded, many of them enthusiastically.

But Fosle said he has made no decision to launch himself into the bar business and simply is exploring the idea at this point.

One of the venues he’s considering is a former Gary-New Duluth watering hole that was called The Limit. But Fosle said the building probably would require extensive work, including roof repairs.

Fosle is no stranger to the local club scene, having played drums in local bar bands since 1984. He’s part of a band called Don’t Panic.

Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said nothing in city code would preclude a city councilor from owning and operating a bar.

“Obviously, serving on the City Council is not a full-time job that pays people enough to make a living,” he said.

Duluth city councilors each receive monthly compensation of $833 for their service, or just shy of $10,000 per year.

Fosle works as a bus route coordinator/trainer for the Duluth school district and said he would continue his employment there even if he opens a bar. In November, he ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate for a spot as representative in Minnesota House District 7B.

As for the possibility of a bar venture, Fosle said: “It’s more or less just a thought right now.”

He has no illusions of certain success as a bar owner and voiced concerns about becoming overextended.

“It’s a tough racket, but if we had good food, that would help,” Fosle said. “There’s really no restaurant out there, all the way from Fond du Lac to West Duluth.”

Even if he doesn’t fill the void, Fosle said he hopes someone else will.

Johnson noted that city councilors bring a variety of professional backgrounds to council chambers. Their employers have included government entities, private companies, banks, corporations and law firms, many of which have occasional dealings with the city. Councilors obviously also can be self-employed.

“We want people on the council who are also invested in the community,” Johnson said.

When conflicts of interest do arise, councilors are obliged to abstain from voting on or discussing that particular issue.

“It’s not new territory,” Johnson said.

Fosle said that if he becomes a bar owner, he will abstain from any votes on liquor-license fees or other matters that would directly affect his business.

Duluth City Council President Patrick Boyle was unfazed by the idea of a fellow councilor owning a bar.

“I don’t see any issue,” he said. “My ancestors were from Ireland, where many bar owners were also mayors.”

Boyle also said that growing up 25 miles south of Superior, he knew taverns not only as places that served alcohol but also as community meeting places.

“They were places where people went for a cup of coffee and to talk politics,” he said.

But there was a day when bar ownership carried a degree of political stigma, too. In January 1912 (about eight years before the start of Prohibition) the Duluth News Tribune reported that Superior Alderman Phil Gannon, who had been considering a run for mayor, was denied candidacy “for the reason that the law specifically bars persons holding saloon licenses.”

Fosle: From City Hall to the … beer hall? Duluth city councilor considers opening bar | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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