Madison’s alcohol committee voted Tuesday to prevent the sale of gas and liquor within the same store. Their message: the two simply don’t mix.
The Alcohol License Review Committee unanimously voted to codify a decade old trend preventing gas stations from loading up customers with pocket-sized booze bottles.
“This is the last place we want to have any liquor sold,” Ald. Michael Schumacher, District 18, said at the meeting.
Only in the past few years has the committee even considered beer and wine sales, according to Ald. Michael Verveer, District 4.
Verveer said the longstanding policy has granted licenses for beer only then wine, but never exclusively granted hard liquor sales.
“There is no support at the council level for granting hard liquor licenses for gas stations,” Verveer said. “The thought is it’s easier to get hammered with the hard stuff than beer and wine.”
The decision came after two applicants approached ALRC members this summer looking for liquor licenses to sell booze at their gas stations in Madison. Those applicants were confused when there was no hard rule on why the applications were consistently denied by the body.
ALRC member Chet Gerlach cast doubt on the effects of the ordinance, saying it could hamper sales in the future.
Other members also discussed how the ordinance would affect stores that already sell both gas and liquor.
Woodman’s Food Market was the only location identified by the committee that currently holds a liquor license and sells gas. They will be grandfathered in the ordinance, exempting them from the rule since it would only apply to new applicants.
Verveer acknowledged that any future grocery store, gas station combination would be targeted under the provision.
The full City Council is set to take up the provision at their next meeting Sept. 15.
The committee also forwarded several other licenses in the campus area.
Longtime downtown business owner Vasilis Kallias plans to open a new restaurant with a connecting service window inside The Pub on State Street. The restaurant will replace Maza Restaurant at 558 State St. with Opa Caf?/Lounge. The committee forwarded the request for a class B combination liquor and beer license to the council.
Since the new restaurant will operate with an 80/20 food to alcohol ratio, they are exempted from the constraints of the downtown alcohol density plan.
A new Pizza Extreme restaurant that just began serving food south of Camp Randall also gained approval from the committee to serve beer. If approved by the council next week, customers could be washing down their pie with a cold one by next Friday, according to Verveer.
In addition to the beer license, the ALRC gave the go-ahead to a 200-person beer garden to be operated by the pizza shop’s owners next football season. Currently a non-profit is using the parking lot at 1614 Monroe St. to serve football fans as a fundraiser.