The owner of Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry plans to sign a lease today to reopen his burger joint on North Frances Street, but he might never get the chance to open if the Alcohol License Review Committee denies him a liquor license.
Owner Jeff Stanley said if he could not obtain a liquor license, he could not afford to reopen his restaurant.
Stanley said he has been trying to reopen Dotty’s since the city condemned the restaurant to make way for the Overture Center on the 200 block of State Street.
The potential Dotty’s site is next to the Nitty Gritty at 319 N. Frances St., in the heart of the downtown drinking scene.
The District 4 site’s alder, Mike Verveer, said official police department policy states in a memo from Police Chief Richard Williams that the police department would not support a liquor license at that location due to the saturation of alcohol establishments downtown.
Verveer said he doubted the ALRC would approve another liquor license on North Frances.
“No liquor license has even gotten close to approval at that location,” Verveer said.
ALRC committee member Tom Garver said he was not aware of any police policy regarding the site and that he would be interested in analyzing the provisional factors Stanley would agree to adopt along with the license. Garver said he would weigh factors including the restaurant’s capacity and hours when considering granting Stanley a liquor license.
“We all know Jeff, and we all know Dotty Dumpling’s, so I think it depends on what he has to offer and what he has to say,” Garver said.
Stanley said he would agree to closing Dotty’s before bartime and refusing to offer drink specials.
He said if he could obtain a liquor license and reopen Dotty’s, the restaurant would not be an exact replica of its former character.
“I want to take it up a touch,” Stanley said, adding that although he would incorporate some of the old Dotty’s décor into a new site, he would not have room for items like the foreman rowing crew that hung from the ceiling.
Stanley took legal action against the city in 2000 to keep his State Street location open, refusing city offers to buy out the site for up to $600,000, according to the Overture Foundation.
However, Stanley said he never knew the city presented him with any offers to buy his building.
“Maybe they’re right and my lawyer never told me about it, but I was never aware of any offers,” Stanley said.