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Heidi Shaffer, Published November 18 2010

Discussion on Fargo drink specials on tap

Fargo-Moorhead has a culture of happy hours and ladies’ nights, and a Fargo board is taking a look at whether such drink specials should be allowed.

“There is a cultural thing here,” Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said Tuesday during a Liquor Control Board discussion on drink specials. “What’s concerning to me about that right now is that it’s an industry-regulated issue.”

The board asked the Safe Communities Coalition, a metrowide group that works to limit youth access to alcohol and encourages traffic safety, to examine other cities that have banned drink specials and gather more information on whether to regulate the practice.

“From a public health and traffic safety standpoint, drink specials can be detrimental,” said Robyn Litke, Safe Communities coordinator.

A number of cities and states prohibit drink specials, she said. There has also been interest within the Safe Communities group, made up of about 40 medical professionals, law enforcement officers, business owners and concerned citizens.

The North Dakota Legislature turned down a proposal in 2007 from state Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo, that would have required bars to keep price lists of their drinks and prevented them from offering drink discounts or special deals, such as two drinks for the price of one, after 11 p.m.

Fargo has only one liquor license category that prohibits drink specials. Gastropub and Billiards owner Michael Page holds that FA-entertainment license.

Page asked Tuesday that the liquor board extend drink specials to his license. The board tabled his request.

Offers such as $4 all-you-can-drink ladies’ nights and 3-for-1 specials seem to encourage overconsumption, said Dave Piepkorn, a city commissioner who sits on the liquor board.

But Piepkorn said he wants a metrowide proposal so businesses in Fargo don’t lose customers to competing bars in other cities.

Rick’s Bar owner Rick Carik said he is open to sitting on a task force to examine the issue, which has many facets for business owners, he said.

Safe Communities will report its initial findings to the Liquor Control Board during its next scheduled meeting on Dec. 15.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511