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One Of MN's Oldest Bars Is Having Trouble Paying Its Bills

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A bar claiming to be Minnesota's oldest might be closing for good, soon.

The Barrel House, which opened in Red Wing in the 1880s, reportedly owes the state money. However, it's not the state that's taking issue; the city of Red Wing is.

Red Wing's City Clerk, Kathy Johnson, said the bar's been operating without a food and beverage license since last summer. The state has now initiated civil action to get the bar shutdown, until it pays and gets that required license.

"It's always unfortunate," Johnson said. "Certainly, the city doesn't want to do that. We hope the owner is able to get his affairs in order and get proper licensing from the state and continue doing business."

Barrel House owner Matthew Parker owes the state $1,600 for this year's food and beverage license. The amount includes several fines and fees.

Johnson said Parker told her he'd pay for the license. But so far, he hasn't.

"Up till this point, he hasn't made that payment," Johnson said.

As a result of that, the city might also take action against the bar's liquor license. Council members could impose a fine, suspend the license or even revoke it at a meeting in a month.

Parker says his sales are down. Business in Red Wing has been slow, and he's gotten behind in paying his bills.

Moreover, Parker is also accused of buying liquor from another retailer, something that's illegal and for which he's been assessed for a $500 fine.

Local bar owner John Juenemann, of The Roxx, says he understands Parker's dilemma.

"Totally understand where he's coming from, cause I feel the same way," he said.

Juenemann said a half-dozen bars have closed in the last couple years, and those bars are just down the street from Parker's bar.

"He's probably stealing from Peter to pay Paul," he said. "One month you might have to skip a bill and pay something that's more priority. The next month, catch up on that. It's playing a game of catch up, that's what it is."

Parker says he plans to pay the bill in the next few days, which might keep closing time from becoming permanent.

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