After more than two hours of testimony and an hour of closed session
deliberation, the Cedarburg Common Council unanimously voted last
night to revoke the Class B liquor license for the August Weber Haus.
Common Council President Mike O’Keefe cited two reasons for the
decision in his motion.
“The first is for failure to publish open hours per the ordinance …
the second is (for) failure to be open for business in a way that
satisfies an active business concern on a regular basis,” he said at
the hearing Tuesday night.
The motion was seconded by Jack Arnett and passed unanimously.
No public comment was taken at the hearing with the Common Council
instructed to base its decision purely on information presented
through witness testimony and information supplied by counsel.
Testimony centered around whether the owners of the August Weber
Haus, Steve and Diane Banas, were satisfying the terms of the city
ordinance to hold a liquor license. All licensees in the city are
now required to be open a minimum of 240 consecutive minutes, at
least 15 days per month.
“One of the obstacles in our investigation was to verify the hours
that the August Weber Haus was open,” Cedarburg Police Chief Tom
Frank testified. “We had the opportunity to use a video recorder
following our festival to monitor business activity. We did that
through the month of July and it did not appear to be very much
activity (that month). The business operates very sporadically
outside of festival weekends.”
Frank said that after review, the investigation concluded they were
not in compliance with the ordinance due to a lack of business
activity, randomness of hours and days of operation. At times, the
August Weber Haus would open before 8 a.m. in the morning and close
In testimony, Diane Banas reported that of the 304 days from January
to October, the August Weber House has been open 192 days. She added
that she is the person at the August Weber Haus 90 percent of the
“Is it fair to say that the vast majority of your business comes
from festivals?” questioned Attorney Jonathan Woodward, who was
representing the Cedarburg Police Department at the hearing.
“I can’t answer that, you’d have to ask my husband that question,”
Timothy Algiers, the attorney representing the Banases, pointed out
that a lack of clientele did not mean that the Banases were not
complying with the ordinance.
He also cited that the Banases had outlined how they planned to
conduct business in a letter to the city, among other things,
stating that their operating hours would not be consistent due to
the fact that they both work other jobs.
“Where in the ordinance does it say a business has to publish a
fixed schedule? Or fixed hours in advance? Consistent hours as to
times of the day? Consistent days per week?” Algiers questioned
These requirements were not specifically noted in the ordinance nor
did the city advise the Banases of these requirements, according to
“I believe Steve asked for clarification and he was directed back to
the ordinance,” said Diane Banas in her testimony. “Had I been aware
after listening to the questions (tonight), or even felt that the
ordinance was different as far as posting my hours, posting ahead of
time, posting days of the week, I would have done that. But that
wasn’t the way we understood it; as far as we were concerned, we
were following the ordinance the way it was written. Otherwise we
would have made changes.”
Steve Banas was present but did not testify at the hearing.
In closing remarks, Woodward said that the city was not obligated to
provide further information to the Banases in this respect.
“The city did provide fair notice and fair guidance, but this
council, the city attorney’s office and city clerk are not the
Banases’ attorney,” he said. “None of those entities have a
responsibility to provide an advisory opinion. That is why the
Banases have their own attorney.”
“Everything alleged as a violation in that complaint is not required
by the ordinance,” countered Algiers.
“You have to look at the text of the ordinance,” said Woodward. “A
business should not just be open, but be legitimately open to the
public for business. The ordinance has a non-exhaustive list of
factors that the council can look at to determine that. I also
propose to you that it’s just a common-sense decision: Is this how a
normal business would operate?”
With the revocation of the Class B liquor license, the August Weber
Haus can no longer sell intoxicating beverages, including wine.
The Banases must now wait 12 months before reapplying for the
<<EARLIER: Council to review August Weber liquor license tonight