Blue Earth may soon have a spot on its Main Street to stop in and sample a cold brew.
And, the City Council took a major step last Monday night to help make that happen. They passed a new liquor ordinance that covers a malt brewer's on and off sale beer license.
"We have a person who wants to open a micro-brewery with a tap room in the former Hallmark building," Councilman John Huisman reported. "In order for this to happen we need to pass this new ordinance."
Although the person was not named at the meeting, that person is John Oswald of Woodlawn, Colo. He is a former Blue Earth and Frost resident.
Oswald is starting a business called Oswald Brewing Company, which will make and sell craft beer in Blue Earth.
He completed the purchase of the Hallmark building at 110 S. Main for the new enterprise on Monday, July 8.
But, before it can open, it has to pass a couple of hurdles. One was the need for a new liquor ordinance to allow the enterprise to actually sell beer.
The next step will be for him to actually apply for a license under the ordinance. City administrator Kathy Bailey says that can't happen until 30 days after the ordinance is published in the city's official newspaper. It appears in this edition of the Faribault County Register.
The new ordinance allows this type of business to operate, serving only beers that the business crafts itself. Beer can be sold for consumption on the premises, or as an off-sale to take from the location, much like a liquor store.
"Could this hurt our own enterprise (Blue Earth Wine and Spirits which is owned by the city)?" Councilman Glenn Gaylord asked.
Huisman said it will not, since the micro-brewery can only sell beers that they make.
"We need to do anything we can to bring businesses to downtown Blue Earth," Huisman said. "This is something new that is coming to Main Street."
Mayor Rick Scholtes agreed.
"This is a good thing for the community," he said. "Adding a new business to downtown is great."
The motion made by Huisman and seconded by Councilman Russ Erichsrud passed unanimously.
Oswald was excited to hear that the council had passed the ordinance.
"Our next big task is to transition our family back to Blue Earth and get going on all the things we have to do to get the business operating," he says. That includes a lot of paperwork with city, state and federal agencies.
Oswald and his wife, Tami, and two children have lived in Colorado for the past 10 years.
"But, we want to come live in Blue Earth," he says. "It is a great community, with a wonderful school; just a great place to raise our family."
They plan to enroll the two children at Blue Earth Area Schools for this fall.
Oswald says they were in Blue Earth in May and fell in love with the town all over again. That is also when he noticed the Hallmark building was for sale.
"It is a beautiful building," he says. "With the granite and marble. I saw it as an opportunity to buy it and start a business there."
Oswald says micro-breweries have been going strong in Colorado for some time, and are now exploding in numbers in Minnesota.
He thinks Blue Earth is a good place to open one up.
"Kathy Bailey has been wonderful to work with," Oswald says. "She and the city attorney and several council members have really given us support and are helping make this happen. Everyone we have talked to has been very excited that we are coming to start this business."