Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bar owners speak out regarding PACE’s proposed regulations

Despite a current voluntary ban on downtown, weekend drink specials, Club Majestic will reinstate its $15 all-you-can-drink special this weekend.

Club Majestic owner Nick Schiavo said he thinks the proposed regulations put forth by the University of Wisconsin’s Policy, Alernatives, Community and Education coalition aim to hurt small businesses in the downtown area, like Club Majestic. Schiavo, who said PACE has used him as the “poster boy” for all that is bad about downtown drinking establishments, has not received a copy of the coalition’s newest list of “Proposed Best Practices for Licensed Establishments.”

While downtown bars may be among the establishments most affected by PACE’s proposed regulations, other tavern owners have little to say, because they have not received copies of the much-hyped recommendations.


“I’ve only read about it in the newspapers,” Matt Goetsch, a State Street Brats manager, said, adding that State Street Brats never received a copy of the proposal that was presented to the Alcohol License and Review Committee Feb. 18.

“I read the editorial in The Badger Herald,” Jay Wanserski, owner of Wando’s, said. “I was more amazed than anything else.”

Wanserski said he has not received a copy of the “Proposed Best Practices” from PACE either.

In fact, Goetsch said he has had no contact with anyone representing the PACE Project, such as Susan Crowley, director of PACE. He said he has only felt the effects of the organization’s actions, like last year’s ban on all weekend drink specials. He said even when the weekend drink-special ban had to be implemented, no one from PACE contacted the bar concerning the changes.

Other popular bars, such as Johnny O’s, Kollege Klub and Brothers declined to comment, although they acknowledged that they also had not received the PACE “Proposed Best Practices” proposals.

As far as the impact PACE has had, most notably eliminating weekend drink specials, Goetsch said it has not made a difference in sales or attendance at State Street Brats, and he has not heard of any bars severely affected by the ban.

Schiavo, who said he is friends with Chancellor John Wiley, said the chancellor told him if he stopped advertising in The Badger Herald, PACE would stop targeting him. However, Schiavo said this has not been the case. After discontinuing his advertisements with the newspaper, he still hears from PACE about Club Majestic’s all-you-can-drink specials, most likely due to the new regulations PACE has proposed.

The new regulations are much more detailed and threaten to alter the bar scene much more drastically than past attempts.

One new proposal, which is particularly concerning to tavern management, is the possible elimination of all late-night drink specials like those at Club Majestic. According to the list of recommendations, “Raising the price of alcoholic beverages reduces consumption.”

“The data and research we looked at shows the relationship between price and consumption,” Crowley said, adding happy hour is no longer the only drink special offered during the night at many bars.

However, Goetsch and Schiavo question whether price and consumption are correlated.

Goetsch said Flip Night, like many other drink specials around the city, is not necessarily the best deal in town, considering the potential of a cheap drink is determined by the flip of a coin. He said people visit the bar not so much for drink prices but for the atmosphere it presents.

“I think people come to Flip Night more for the interaction with the bartender and other people here than for the cheapness of the drinks,” he said.

Schiavo said the number of drinks a customer at Club Majestic’s all-you-can-drink special consumes is, on average, three. While he admitted some people drink more than the average, there are restrictions placed on the special, and he said most customers do not over-consume.

Goetsch said he has reason to believe convenience conquers price. He noted the cigarette machine located in the bar, which sells packs of cigarettes for $6 each. Despite the high price and the close proximity to vendors selling cheaper cigarettes, Goetsch said bar-goers still buy packs of cigarettes from the machine at an alarming rate.

“Price isn’t a major driving factor. They will pay whatever it takes,” Goetsch said, adding this relates to alcohol prices as well.

Wanserski said he thinks eliminating drink specials is unrealistic and will not do much to eliminate over-consumption, which is the problem PACE aims to diminish.

“If someone is on a mission to get intoxicated, it doesn’t matter if it is $3 or $15,” Wanserski said.

However, students may not be the only ones faced with higher prices. Another PACE recommendation has proposed “responsible alcohol beverage-service training for bar owners and servers.”

While some agree with PACE that this is a good idea, Goetsch said the task could be much more difficult than PACE members anticipate. He said having a universal training session would do little when the varying size and technologies in the bars of downtown are recognized. The method of payment and who would pay for the training is also in question by bar owners aware of the proposed regulations.

The use of ID scanners in all establishments is also on the list of recommendations and would be yet another cost for licensed establishments. Goetsch said State Street Brats has looked into obtaining a scanner, but the expense of the item has deterred it from doing so. He questioned whether the scanners are worth the price, because a large number of fake IDs are already confiscated by bar staff as it is.

Wanserski said he confiscates more than 600 IDs each year at Wando’s, and he wonders how large of a difference scanners would make in trying to discourage the use of fake identification or how many more people would be caught using this device.

PACE is also trying to implement regulations requiring bars to “provide food service and non-alcohol beverages for patrons.”

Again, Wanserski said this is a good idea in theory but is actually unrealistic, because many establishments do not have the facilities to operate in this manner. He said Wando’s serves food until 10 p.m. each night, and keeping the grill open later would be an added expense. Wanserski also said the multitude of food establishments in the downtown area would also be affected by this recommendation because of the competition the bars would create for these businesses.

As for the potential effects of the proposed recommendations, Goetsch is concerned the regulations will drive out customers from his bar without solving the problem PACE aims to solve.

Goetsch said the people who will drink less because of PACE are most likely people without a drinking problem. Problem drinkers, he said, will drink regardless of whether there is a drink special.

As drink prices rise, fewer customers who frequent the bar without causing trouble will visit the bars, Goetsch fears.

Since it is much cheaper to buy alcohol at a liquor store than it is to go to a bar, Goetsch anticipated that eliminating drink specials may merely drive people to get more kegs and go to more house parties.

He said drinking at a house party is far more dangerous than drinking at a bar like State Street Brats, because there is not comparable supervision at parties, not to mention the numerous fire codes violated at such gatherings.

Schiavo agreed the new regulations seem to be driving students to have more house parties.

Crowley has said another goal of the project is making house parties safe.

“Are they going to come into people’s houses next?” Schiavo asked.

Before any action is taken, Goetsch said he would like to see evidence proving the actions PACE desires to enforce would make a difference.

“I would like to see research on how eliminating drink specials are going to eliminate problem drinkers. Taking away Flip Night won’t stop the problem drinkers,” Goetsch said, adding punishing everyone for a few people’s wrongdoings will not solve the problem.

Adam Greenberg, owner of he City Bar and Restaurant, said if the list resembles those proposed by PACE in the past, he is not worried.

“So far, I haven’t really noticed a difference,” Greenberg said regarding previous PACE initiatives.

Wanserski agreed he has not seen the effects of PACE in regards to the business his establishment receives or the initiatives the organization has attempted to tackle.

“No, PACE has not made a difference,” Wanserski said.

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