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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Blue Velvet denied increase in capacity

Ald. Michael Schumacher, District 18, sponsored an ordinance that could prevent bar employees from drinking on the job.[/media-credit]

The Alcohol License Review Committee denied the local bar Blue Velvet’s application to increase its capacity Wednesday.

The Blue Velvet Lounge on Gilman Street applied to increase its capacity from 99 to 168.

City Attorney Steve Brist informed the committee that under the current alcohol density plan, the committee could not increase the capacity.


“We are not able to do that,” Brist said. “The application conflicts with the ordinance.”

According to owner Lawrence Schmock, the Blue Velvet’s capacity was previously set at 122 until a recent review conducted by the fire department lowered them to 99.

According to Alcohol Policy Coordinator Katherine Plominski, the review was conducted upon the Blue Velvet and 11 other bars in the area that contain multiple floors or rooms. Plominski said the goal of the reviews was to discover the best way to establish capacity for bars that contain more than one room.

Schmock said he did not know why his capacity was lowered, and a capacity of 99 was too low for a two-story bar.

Many members of the ALRC expressed their displeasure that there was nothing they could do to increase the Blue Velvet’s capacity and asked Plominski to bring an explanation for the lowered capacity to the next meeting, as well as information on how capacity is decided upon in hopes of raising his capacity back to 122.

According to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, many bars have been denied a request for increased capacity because of the density plan.

“If we want to get into this policy discussion, which would likely mean an ending to the ordinance, I’m all for it,” Verveer said.

Verveer added this item was good preparation for the committee for a discussion about the density plan.

The capacity issue was referred to the December ALRC meeting, when the committee may or may not restore the 122 capacity based on Plominski’s report.

Two ordinances relating to habitual drunkenness and prohibiting bar employees from drinking while working came before the ALRC Wednesday as well. However, the ALRC ultimately decided to refer the decisions until later meetings.

The ordinance to prohibit sales of alcohol to habitually intoxicated persons was referred until the January ALRC meeting. Sponsor Ald. Michael Schumacher, District 18, said the details of the ordinance were not ready for discussion.

Three members of the Madison Alcohol Advisory Council spoke at the meeting, saying while they were in support of the idea, they were happy there would be more time to work out details.

Another ordinance prohibiting bar employees from drinking while working — also sponsored by Schumacher — was similarly referred until January with no discussion.

After the meeting, Verveer said he did not think it necessary to prohibit all drinking by bar employees.

“I think that [this ordinance] is a solution looking for a problem,” Verveer said.

The new owner of The Pub, Gus Paras, was also granted a liquor license for the bar. According to Paras, who currently runs the Comedy Club, only minor changes will be made.

Tavern League President Barb Mercer also announced Marsh Shapiro has resigned from his seat as the designated Tavern League representative on the committee. Until a new appointment is made, Mercer said she will be the representative. Mercer declined further comment to The Badger Herald.

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