A beloved craft brew bar in St. Paul, the Happy Gnome, is closing. After being in business for 14 years, the bar and restaurant said its last day of business would be Sunday, December 22.
This follows the closure of several other popular small businesses in St. Paul, including O’Gara’s pub. The O’Gara’s closure created some controversy after its owners cited St. Paul’s bad business climate for the closure. This includes a $15 minimum wage that has no allowance for tips received, mandatory paid sick leave, and higher property taxes.
Meanwhile, many pubs that don’t produce beer on-site face stiff competition from breweries, which are often able to realize a higher margin for the drinks that they sell.
Yet even despite the competition from craft brewers, St. Paul’s new rules—meant to help workers—may be destroying many lower-income jobs.
And because larger businesses can deal with increased regulation and compliance better than small businesses can, these new rules are coming down particularly hard on small businesses. St. Paul has always had an old-school feel compared to Minneapolis. If all the small businesses leave, that old-school, community-feel will be lost to hollowed-out buildings and crime.