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Madison’s Alcohol License Review Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to grant a liquor license to a new downtown restaurant.
The Brickhouse BBQ is set to open in August 2009 on the corner of Broom and Gorham streets, next to Riley’s Liquor Store and across from the Equinox apartments.
“It always adds a greater level of availability for success when you have full liquor,” said Joe Tachovsky, manager of the Brickhouse BBQ.
The license allows the restaurant to serve beer, wine and hard liquor. The restaurant is allowed to generate 25 percent of its revenue from alcohol sales.
Even though the committee voted unanimously to grant the license, the Brickhouse BBQ still faced considerable obstacles in its attempt to get a liquor license.
State law caps the number of liquor licenses that the city can issue, making it somewhat difficult for a new establishment to get a license. Some council members were also concerned that the Brickhouse BBQ would be a restaurant in name only, not in practice.
“We don’t like to see places morph into bars,” said Bob Holloway, member of the Development Committee of Capitol Neighborhoods. He added the restaurant could get all of its food sales during the day and turn into a full-blown bar at night.
Quinton’s Bar and Grill, also on the corner of Broom and Gorham, faced this very issue last spring when ALRC nearly revoked their liquor license under allegations they were making more money off of alcohol than food.
However, some residents were supportive of the new restaurant.
“They meet the standard for us,” Holloway said of the Brickhouse BBQ, adding the restaurant would “improve the quality of life of our neighborhood.”
Although the Brickhouse BBQ will be a sit-down restaurant, it will attempt to cater to University of Wisconsin students by staying open late and offering to-go items, Tachovsky said.
One Madison resident said granting another liquor license to a restaurant was “overkill.”
“I don’t think that we need another one in this area,” Rosemary Lee said.
She said granting an alcohol license to the Brickhouse BBQ would give a monopoly on alcohol sales to Jong Yean Lee, owner of the restaurant. Jong Yean Lee and her husband also own Samba Brazilian Grill, Riley’s Liquor, Badger Liquor and the Church Key Bar
Despite these concerns, ALRC was willing to grant the license, in part because of the success of Samba Brazilian Grill.