WAUKESHA — A
city panel is seeking changes to local liquor regulations that could
make it easier for non-restaurants to get a license for serving wine
as long as they serve some kind of food with the alcoholic beverage.
which was made Monday by the Ordinance and Licensing Committee,
comes after a group of entrepreneurs approached the city looking to
serve beer and wine at a craft studio they are hoping to open in the
By state law
the city can issue different types of licenses allowing certain
businesses to serve alcohol on their premises. But the state puts a
quota or limit on the number of full “Class B” intoxicating liquor
and/or “tavern” licenses, which allow license holders to serve both
hard liquor and wine as well as beer. With the city having issued
all 77 of its allotted tavern licenses, the only way a restaurateur
or other business owner can currently secure a full “Class B” or
tavern license from the city would be to apply for a $10,000 reserve
license. With state law now barring cities from reimbursing
applicants for reserve license fees, Deputy City Clerk-Treasurer
Sandee Policello said local businesses have been applying for
licenses that only allow them to serve beer and/or wine. There are
currently 11 businesses with Class “B” and “C” combo licenses that
allow them to serve both wine and beer, and nine businesses with
Class “B” licenses that allow them to serve only beer.
Hoping to serve
both wine and beer at their soon-to-open craft studio Artsy Bliss,
Jacky Leverance and her partners Rabi Malik and Gwen Doyle
approached the city earlier this year seeking to apply for a beer
and wine combination license.
They ran into a
bit of a roadblock, however, when city officials noted that wine
licenses can only be issued to restaurants.
state statute governing wine licenses defines restaurants merely as
establishments “where meals are prepared, served or sold,” City
Attorney Brian Running suggested that the Ordinance and Licensing
Committee consider how they wished to define the term “meal” when it
comes to issuing “Class C” licenses to business that aren’t
“I think it is
important that we have a stated set of standards for the issuance of
“Class C” licenses, just so that each time a decision is made (on
whether to issue a license) it’s not an ad hoc decision based on a
varying standard or criteria,” he told committee members.
that, up until last year, the state statute had defined a restaurant
as a place where the predominant activity was the preparation and
sale of food, but now the state statute had opened up the ability to
get the license to practically any business.
With that in
mind, he said, the question before the committee was whether to
pursue a policy that was more flexible or more restrictive.
“In any alcohol
regulations you don’t want situations where there is going to be
overconsumption. And I think with something like a painting studio,
or a hair salon, those are situations where people are probably are
not going specifically to drink or get intoxicated,” Running said.
He added that
the committee could always specify that certain businesses, such as
day cares, were not eligible for “Class C” licenses whether they
served food or not.
During a roughly
25minute discussion, the three committee members present for the
meeting — Chairman Steve Johnson, Alderwoman Cassie Rodriguez and
Common Council President Daniel Manion — said they favored a lenient
policy. Rodriguez noted, however, that she would like to set a
policy that would require would-be license holders to serve more
than just a bowl of popcorn or pretzels with the wine.
getting a wine license should be no more difficult than getting a
“In my mind
there is a little bit of an arbitrary distinction between wine and
beer,” Manion said. “I can go into any number of bars downtown and
get a bourbon-barrel-aged stout. That is a strong beer but it’s
maybe a few percentage points from a glass of Chardonnay in terms of
alcohol content. If (an applicant) meets the requirements to serve
beer, I don’t really see a big difference in allowing them to serve
wine as well.”
voted 3-0 to ask Running’s office to draft various options for a
would-be ordinance change and present them to the Common Council at
6:30 p.m. on June 17 at City Hall, 201 Delafield St.
public comment period, Leverance urged the committee to pursue more
flexibility for “Class C” wine license applicants, saying it would
help boost economic development in the city and free up more tavern
licenses for bonafide bars and restaurants.
committee, Leverance said she was looking forward to getting all the
necessary licensing and permitting for the craft studio.
She and her
partners hope to be operating, and perhaps serving a few glasses of
wine and beer, by Sept. 1.