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.