The downtown Logan’s Madtown Bar and Restaurant is poised to permanently close its doors after a city committee gave the establishment 15 days to relinquish its liquor license.
Logan’s general manager Adam Mais represented the establishment at an Alcohol License Review Committee hearing Tuesday. He told ALRC members that its owners – who were not in attendance – had informed employees of their intent to shut down the business for good Monday evening, according to Madison Alcohol and Food Coordinator Mark Woulf.
According to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, Logan’s owners, including Texas native Joe Bendetti, visited Madison Monday evening after years of supervising the business from afar to empty the building of any materials of value. Kitchen equipment, sound systems and even wall decorations were removed and shipped to Texas via U-Haul trucks, Verveer said, leaving the establishment virtually empty by Tuesday.
“The place is pretty much stripped bare,” Verveer said.
In the meeting that lasted 20 minutes, the committee gave Logan’s 15 days to voluntarily relinquish its liquor license.
Logan’s future as a downtown hotspot has been contested since the Madison Police Department requested the city’s finance department audit it, a process that lasted from May 2011 until the summer of 2012.
Woulf said the request for an audit stemmed from suspicions that the establishment was operating as a bar instead of a restaurant, which is prohibited under Madison’s alcohol license density ordinance.
The measure aims to stem the increasing growth of bars in the city’s downtown area and labels restaurants as establishments whose alcohol sales comprise 50 percent or less of their total sales. According to Woulf, Logan’s alcohol sales reached 67 percent during the period of time it was audited.
In reaction to the audit’s findings, city officials decided to bring a complaint against Logan’s for its alleged violation of the density ordinance. According to Verveer, Tuesday’s hearing was scheduled after Mais attended a previous ALRC meeting to enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the establishment.
At the hearing, Mais changed the plea to no contest, according to city records. Mais said the owners cited a recent decrease in profits as a major factor in their decision not to contest the city’s charges and to instead shut down the business, Woulf said. The committee gave Mais, Logan’s official liquor license agent, 15 days to voluntarily hand over its alcohol license to the city.
Upon the license’s surrender, Woulf said the city attorney’s office is expected to withdraw its complaint against the establishment.
Verveer said the committee recommended the city revoke Logan’s license if the establishment fails to voluntarily surrender it. Should the city strip Logan’s of the license, a new business would be unable to take the establishment’s location on West Johnson Street for one calendar year under Madison law, a move Verveer said would be unfortunate for future businesses hoping to profit from the downtown location.
Verveer added he had largely expected Logan’s would have a chance at succeeding in contesting the city’s complaint, noting the only establishment that has been prosecuted under the density ordinance is Quinton’s Bar and Deli, a business that previously occupied the building now housing Chaser’s Bar and Grill.
“Speaking only for myself, as a member of the ALRC, Logan’s would have had an excellent chance of fighting the revocation complaint filed by the city attorney’s office based on past precedent,” Verveer said. “It seemed to me Logan’s would have had a better-than-even chance, perhaps even a pretty good chance, of not having their license revoked and could have possibly stayed open.”