Five businesses are pursuing one license
One is a national chain restaurant that needs a license before construction can begin. One is a bed and breakfast that has had to rely on caterers to provide alcohol for special events. One is a Mediterranean restaurant, one is a wine shop and one is a soon-to-be martini bar and bistro.
Each business has its reasons for wanting a liquor license. But to which business should the city issue one?
People who spoke at the finance, license and regulation committee meeting and later at the city council meeting said the city should focus on local establishments, not commercial giants.
Charlene Klein said she moved to the city from a larger urban setting, which was populated by big-box stores and chain restaurants and bars.
“I moved here to get away from all that, and it seems to be following me here,” she said.
Klein said those companies are doing “irreparable damage” to the unique local business community. She said the city should be supportive of its local establishments and issue its one liquor license accordingly.
Alderman-elect Penny Roehrer suggested the city issue the available liquor license to Gold Oaks Mansion, because owner Nancy Golden Waspi Bell has been trying for six years to get a license. She said the city should then issue a license to Medusa Grill & Bistro, which has been open since 2005, and then to Olive Martinis, a new martini bar to open in a renovated building downtown.
Roehrer said the focus should be on local businesses.
“I understand the issue with Ruby Tuesday (which needs a liquor license before the restaurant can be built), but it’s an outside business,” she said.
Brian Randall, the attorney representing RT Holdings of Southern Wisconsin, said it’s an economic development issue. He said a chain restaurant such as Ruby Tuesday provides the city a compromise. It wouldn’t take away from downtown businesses, because it would be built in a growing commercial area on the eastern edge of the city, but it would contribute to the city’s tax base.