New bar opening in Spring Valley

Work is being done on this downtown Spring Valley building on the corner of Main Street and Broadway Avenue to open up as a bar. DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
By : 
David Phillips
Spring Valley Tribune

Downtown Spring Valley is set to have a bar in operation once again this spring.

Charles Barbera appeared before the Spring Valley City Council during a regular meeting Monday, Jan. 28, to apply for a liquor license so he can open a bar in the building across Main Street from City Hall. The building most recently housed the Old Tyme Saloon, which closed about six years ago.

The annual liquor license fee is $1,700 — $1,500 for the on-sale license plus $200 for a Sunday license. City administrator Deb Zimmer asked if the council wanted to prorate the fee since it expires at the end of June when he would have to renew for another $1,700.

The council decided to reduce the cost to $850 and the motion was approved unanimously without discussion.

Barbera moved to Spring Valley five years ago from New York and he told the Tribune after the meeting that he plans to open a New York style speakeasy in the next two to three months. He is doing some remodeling in the building prior to opening.

The retro interior will have a decor and lighting similar to a New York speakeasy. Among the improvements is a small kitchen for bar food, although not a grill, said Barbera.

Speakeasies were popular during Prohibition as they had nondescript exteriors to avoid detection. There are rumors that Spring Valley had liquor establishments during Prohibition, although local historians are uncertain about details other than instances of bootlegging. Historical copies of the Tribune from the early 1930s have stories about gangsters driving through the area on their way to Mankato from Chicago, sometimes accompanying loads of alcohol in trucks.

The last bar to operate in downtown Spring Valley was Johnny Ringo’s, which burned down in October 2017. The building that housed the Old Tyme Saloon was a bar for many years. Before the Old Tyme Saloon, which opened in 2005, was the Corner Bar and before that Mother’s Place, which opened in 1982. The Brew Haus operated in the building prior to Mother’s Place.

Other licenses, equipment

In other action at the meeting, the council also renewed tobacco licenses for Kwik Trip, Sunshine Foods, Dollar General, Casey’s General Store and Fowler’s BP.

When police policy coordinator Tim Rasmussen was asked if there had been any problems with any of them, he replied that he has not heard of any issues.

In another matter, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a Toolcat 5600 from Bobcat of Stewartville for the streets department. The cost is $51,922, although a trade-in unit reduced the price by $30,000 to $21,922.

The council wouldn’t normally vote on this because it was included in the budget approved by the council last year. It will primarily be used in the department headed by maintenance superintendent Chad Hindt.

“The normal procedure for this would be for the commissioner, which is Luan (Ruesink), Chad and myself to review since it is budgeted,” said Zimmer. “Chad and I talked and thought there were some questions about this or something came up so we put it on the agenda.”

One reason this was done is because there are several new members on the council since the budget was approved, said Zimmer after the meeting. She also said this piece of equipment gets heavy usage, including by Public Utilities, which reimburses the streets department for use.

Council members had no questions for Zimmer or Hindt about this during Monday’s meeting.


The rest of the meeting consisted of reports from department heads and council members.

• Rasmussen made his final report as a new police policy coordinator will be named in February after he takes a position with the county, which will include coordinating DARE programs in all the school districts in Fillmore County.

“I’d like to thank the council, past and present, and the citizens,” he said. “Spring Valley has been good to me and this is my last meeting so I appreciate all the things you’ve done for me.”

• Parks and Recreation director John Fenske said the rec programs are “going strong” as the youth basketball teams had their second tournament. There is one home tourney for every age with the sixth grade boys playing the previous weekend. The community center has been really busy, he said, but there was an issue with the furnace there that was being resolved.

• Hindt noted he had been busy the last couple weeks as winter returned with snow that needed to be removed. Councilor Chris Danielson asked about the street near Spring Valley Living that connects Memorial Drive to North Park Street because a vehicle got stuck in the snow that morning. Hindt informed her that the street is a private street owned by Spring Valley Living and the city isn’t responsible for clearing it.

• “The plant is running great,” said wastewater treatment plant operator Aaron Hamersma. “The best news is back on Monday, Jan. 21, we had the install for our two new pumps.” They are now online and running, he added.

• January has been a quiet month with just one call, said Fire Chief Brian Danielson. Three people have started firefighter one and two training along with hazardous materials training. If all three are done together, the state will reimburse for costs, Danielson told the council. The department started the pre-employment process for two new members, he added, while Monday was also the official date of Jim McCabe’s retirement after 48 years of service.

• In commission reports, Ruesink and Danielson noted that they attended their first meetings of the groups they represent as commissioner. Ruesink is the commissioner to streets and utilities while Danielson is commissioner to the public library.

• Councilor John Dols, who is commissioner to parks and recreation, said he and Fenske were going to look into applying for a grant from the Minnesota Twins for ball field upgrades at the south park.

• In the administrator’s report, Zimmer said the final plat for the industrial park is being completed. There will be a hearing by Planning and Zoning Commission in March on the preliminary and final plats. Planning and Zoning will also be moving ahead with the park’s proposed residential area, which is near the former Kasten farm, including land that was proposed for the veterans home. Since the veterans home didn’t come through for Spring Valley, residential housing has been proposed for that area and the city will move ahead with those plans, she told the council, which agreed with her assessment.

• Dols and Ruesink attended the League of Minnesota Cities new council member workshop the previous week. Dols said it was a “really great meeting with a lot of good information.” Ruesink added that it was “very beneficial.”

• In the mayor’s report, Tony Archer thanked Rasmussen for his years of service to Spring Valley. He also said he attended the firefighters’ winter dinner where he presented a certificate to McCabe for his service. He ended by saying he would be out of town for the Feb. 11 meeting so Mayor Pro Tem Mike Hadland will run it.