Wednesday night the Alcohol License and Review Committee met to approve and discuss current liquor licenses and vendors in the city of Madison. In order for any business to serve alcohol in Madison it must have an approved liquor license from the ALRC.
Several businesses were approved for the selling of liquor. One of the most notable businesses was the Orpheum Theatre. Orpheum owner Henry Doane was given an approval for an extension of his current liquor license. This new license approval will allow for alcohol to be brought inside the Orpheum Theatre during shows.
Currently, the 1,800-seat Orpheum Theatre sells liquor only in the main lobby and restaurant during films, movies and other entertainment functions. Doane said he thinks by allowing liquor inside the theater, it will help with certain crowd-control issues facing the venue.
“This [license] I feel will alleviate pressure in the lobby and hall during concerts,” Doane said.
However, several members of the ALRC stressed concerns about the introduction of liquor inside the theater.
ALRC Chief of Police designee member Sgt. Emil Quast said the Orpheum has a fair amount of problems in dealing with handling overly intoxicated drunks and underage drinkers.
However, Doane stressed that the Orpheum has no more or less problems dealing with alcohol issues than any other State Street business does.
“It is the problem with all State Street bars. We have the same problems: 40,000 students, of which two-thirds are underage, trying to find alcohol,” Doane said.
He went on to explain to the committee that the Orpheum uses a bracelet method to identify legal drinkers and allows only one drink per person at a time.
The ALRC stressed the idea that the Orpheum may turn into a possible 1,800-seat bar, but Doane stressed that alcohol will not be served inside the theater. Instead the liquor can be brought from the bar into the theater.
Madison Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the Orpheum is a well-known and well-managed alcohol program that is an amazing resource for the community, because it is not only a historical icon but offers a wide selection of food, film and live music.
Despite the historic nature of the Orpheum, the ALRC stressed that concert security must be properly retrained if alcohol is to be allowed inside. Doane said he is already at work revising the current, operating alcohol manual. The revision will state that all security personnel must be retrained in handling the possibility of larger, rowdier, drunken crowds.
Ald. Warren Onken, District 3, agreed the manual will help in dealing with overly intoxicated people and underage drinkers. He requested that when the manual is finished, Doane present it before the ALRC for its final approval.
The ALRC also approved an updated liquor license to the new owner of University Bar and Grill, despite scrutiny regarding past problems with underage drinkers. The University Bar and Grill will be fined $2,386 and receive a mandatory five-day suspension.