Six weeks ahead of schedule, the Finlayson Municipal (bar and liquor store) has opened on Monday, March 13th. Mayor Xavier Villarreal said that at least 150 showed up on Monday for the grand opening. "As of 8:00 p.m., we sold approximately 605 drinks and made $2000 plus in sales," said Villarreal.
The new liquor store is fully stocked with a variety of wines, beer and liquor, and the bar is furnished with top of the line fixtures, tables, bar stools and even a first-class, unique tap system.
“It is called a ‘Bottoms up tap system,’” explained City Administrator Allan Brigan. “Tap beer flows through the air, and this system fills from the bottom. There is less foam and less waste, and you get about 90 percent efficiency. The people who installed it said there is not another one like this in a municipal liquor store in the nation.”
Along with the innovative tap system, the bar will be serving Heggies and Kettle River Pizza. And just in time for the busy summer season, the bar will likely be serving more food including sandwiches and appetizers in the upcoming months.
Coinciding with the opening of the bar and liquor store, the Finlayson Fire Hall has opened as well and has been in use for the last couple weeks.
“It is wonderful to have a hall with more room,” said Wyatt Lucht, Finlayson Fire Chief. One of the reasons there was a need for a new firehall was, with the advancements of fire equipment, also came equipment that was larger in size, according to Brigan.
“We bought a tanker truck and had to spend $25,000 extra just to have it shortened to fit in the old firehall,” said Brigan.
“The equipment just keeps getting bigger,” said Lucht. “To pass the new rules and regulations, they now have to be a certain size which didn’t work in the old facility.”
Along with the larger fire hall, there will be room for individual lockers which are currently being made by Sandstone Federal Prison inmates as part of a vocational program. The sign for the fire hall is also made by inmates.
The new construction comes with much character in design. From the custom countertops to creative flooring and tin-paneled ceiling to the mural on the wall to the large Phillips 66 sign that overlooks the patio in the back, there is no shortage of creative elements in the new bar and liquor store.
Inside the bar, a beautifully hand-painted mural, by artist Matt Linge, of the American flag adorns the eastern wall. Under the mural are photos of local veterans and current servicemen and women. In addition to the indoor touches, custom sign designer, Luke Biese, made the outdoor sign that sits over the entrance to the Finlayson Muni. And outside, illuminating the outdoor patio, is a Phillips 66 sign that was loaned by Craig Skaff, the contractor for the new facility. The new building sits on the former Phillips 66 location.
The process of getting the bar, liquor store and firehall up and running has not come without some bumps in the road. “About five years ago, we tried to find land and did a feasibility study and determined land was our biggest problem,” said Brigan. “The solution was that Craig Skaff, of Northern Contractors Inc., owned two lots. We did a build to buy deal where Craig built the facilities and gave us the lots. This saved us a lot of manpower in general contracting.” The city traded lots, and Skaff now owns the lots where the former Finlayson Municipal Bar and Liquor Store sit.
The total project cost was just over $1 million, and the city stayed on budget with the exception of a stove hood and patio which put them over budget by approximately $23,000, according to Briggan. “We got a great deal on the stove hood because the establishment that ordered it ended up going out of business shortly after,” added Brigan.
Another bump in the road was determining where the power would come from. Minnesota Power ended up serving the buildings by running power from their closest location just a few miles from the east.
“This will be a real good thing for the community. The current bar and liquor store has made a profit every year to be able to help with the support of the community,” said Brigan. “The new Sunday liquor sales law will be a good thing as well, I believe, especially with all the lakes and summer activity.”