Restaurant Briefly Closes Due to Lack of Plants

MANKATO, MN--The city of Mankato ordered a downtown restaurant to close their patio for not having enough plants. It's already reopened, but not before touching off a controversy among residents.

On May 28, Blue Bricks closed their patio not due to safety but because it had too few living plants. The city of Mankato required compliance with the patio plant policy by May 26.  The policy was developed after construction on Front Street least year. Part of the project included the expansion of patio space on public property, which bars and restaurants wanted.

"I think it is a little harsh that we went that far. On the other end of it, we immediately facilitated compliance by the next day," said Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges. "We don't want them overcrowded, out of control, and finally that they have a nice appearance that is consistent with the rest of the landscape."

The restaurant has since reopened after the owner purchased plants. For businesses, adding plants to outside patios are good for business.

"Customers want it. They deserve it. We have great customers. Why wouldn't we want to provide the most beautiful patio in town? We've been voted best patio. It is just a great environment to sit out here and have a nice casual dinner," said restaurant owner Patrick Person.

Lawmakers say Minnesota only offers a few months out of the year to enjoy eating outside and the city wants to make it a place people want to go.

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