Plymouth City Council Hammers Cowboy Jack’s, But Does it Make Sense?



I’m officially your citizen the day I defend your Cowboy Jack’s. Mess with my Burgers and Birds Wednesday and my Captain America mask just jumps right on. That said, I’ll apologize now in case I come off as too passionate.

Here’s a story I read yesterday. The jist: The Plymouth City Council saddled Cowboy Jack’s with a downright psychotic stipulation at the risk of possibly losing its liquor license in Ply-Town: Quoting Aaron Rupar’s FOX Twin Cities story, “The bar cannot be the place of last drink for suspects involved in disorderly conduct, assaults, driving while intoxicated, or medical incidents involving intoxication on more than three occasions in any consecutive three month period.”

Bear in mind: This doesn’t say “occurring at Cowboy Jack’s.” This is, or at least sounds like, “you could have one Miller Lite at Cowboy Jack’s after 15 at home, go back home, light your davenport on fire, and Jack is on the hook if you say your last drink was at Jack’s.”

The article states this is happening because Cowboy Jack’s had far more drinking-related police incidents than any other establishment in town; of the 57 total suspects and victims, 43 of them say they tossed back their last drink at Jack’s.

Sounds awfully Titanic, huh? It’s just as easy to sink, though. Watch this:


The restaurant with the second-highest total has closed. Number three is called The Sunshine Factory. That should tell you all you need to know about drinking in Plymouth.

Yes, Old Chicago and Buffalo Wild Wings are there; and yes, their numbers were surprisingly low. Wait, no they weren’t — patrons only get drunk there on game day, and guess where they’re swerving to afterward: THE ONLY PLACE TO HAVE A LAST DRINK IN PLYMOUTH, that’s where!

The city’s action does two things: First, it drops an undue onus on already-overworked bartenders and waitresses who must now gauge customers’ drunkenness while making drinks, taking orders, balancing plates of food and politely turning away pick-up lines while a crappy cover band plays at 10,000 decibels.

I understand it’s illegal to sell to an obviously intoxicated person, and that’s a good thing; but how often can you really tell when all you’re doing is looking at them, hearing them say “Whiskey Coke,” and hustling back to whip up a Whiskey Coke?

This is a genuine question. I’d like it if someone could answer.

My assumption is, while it’s obvious in some cases I’m sure, even the almost-drunkest can at least keep it together during an order. The story states: “Plymouth Deputy Police Chief Dan Plekkenpol tells us that condition isn’t meant to discourage employees from calling police when tomfoolery happens at Cowboy Jack’s”, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen. “Shit, did we already have one this month?” is going to linger behind every decision if someone starts to get real lary at Jack’s.

And it’ll happen. As the Midnight Group representative quoted pointed out, Cowboy Jack’s gets crowded. It isn’t like the Sunshine Factory, which I’m still not sure even exists. Even on Wednesdays, when I just want a burger and water, I’m lucky to get a seat. I never have that problem at Old Chicago, and I never had it at Digby’s.

Second, it sends the wrong message to drunk-drivers, rabble-rousers, and people with serious alcohol problems: It’s the bar’s fault, not yours. Punishing a business for housing the wrong crowd doesn’t get rid of the crowd, it just spreads it out. If I’m Buffalo Wild Wings, I’m watching this story with restless legs — should Jack’s lose their license, that’s where their crowd likely winds up. They’ll get their last drink in Plymouth someplace.

Maybe not, though. Perhaps they’ll simply drunk-steer to St. Louis Park or the downtown Minneapolis Jack’s for their nightcaps. That’s especially unfortunate, and exponentially more dangerous, but this doesn’t seem to be about solving a problem for the City of Plymouth as much as it is just making sure it’s not theirs.


  1. Thank you so much for this. Just to correct you a little. There are 2 really great bands that play there. I suggest asking the staff who they are so you don’t end up with a “Crappy” one next time

  2. I like your point except the crappy cover band playing at 10000 decibels. I too play at Cowboy Jacks (all locations including Plymouth). I am a working class musician. I’ve been sober 9yrs. I am hired to entertain a Friday night Saturday night crowd. That being said, it isn’t a coffe shop, I’m not there to really play my originals in vain, or so others can chat over a nice chianti. It’s a weekend crowd, and I play what people ask me for and what they seem to enjoy. I listen to the managers and if I was told to turn down I would. The staff and the managers are trying to create a scene, a “to do” on the weekends. If you would like to hear my originals, please, come up and ask. I’d much rather play them for you. Like I said I am there to do a job, I set my pride aside and treat it like a wedding. It’s not my Friday night it’s the people’s. I aim to please.

    As far as the city’s claims? Ridiculous. “Where was the last place you heard music tonight?” People are responsible for their own actions. If it wasn’t for popular a place like Jacks to go, that have an atmosphere, like other people, live music, and food. There’s be no nightlife in Plymouth period. The police are busy yes, catching bad guys. Awesome!! That’s the job. That’s what you signed up to do. So do it. You wanted to just sit in your car all night in Facebook or what?


  3. Nowadays nobody is held accountable for their own actions. Drunks aren’t Jacks fault, or Plymouths fault. It’s irresponsible or miserable people who want to forget life for a few hours…their decision, their consequences.

  4. Yes I agree people are not held accountable for there actions. But as an ex employee of that company. I know there were times when I refused to serve a customer and said they were cut off, because they were clearly intoxicated and the managers have told me numerous times that they are ok and to serve them anyways. As a bartender for a decade, you can tell when people are drunk, even if they muffle two words out of their mouth. No matter how busy I am serving rude, intoxicated, harassing customers, I still can tell when they have had too much to drink. And yes, people are over served at cowboy jacks and many other non cowboy bars too. I’m staff getting on the bar at midnight and pouring shots in customers mouths from a bottle with a pour spout doesn’t help catching overly intoxicated people. And maybe they were so annoying as customers asking for drinks that the employee gave them one so that they would shut up.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here