The Alcohol License Review Committee went on its first walk-along bar tour of the academic year Friday night to check downtown bars and ensure they are following policy.
Some bars and restaurants included on the tour were Segredo’s, Johnny O’s, Wando’s, State Street Brats, Hawk’s, Whiskey Jack’s and Sotto. The walk-through also included the new establishments of Roast Public House on State Street and Dragon’s Eye, the former Chin’s.
The committee keeps a close eye on how well downtown bars are operated, according to Tom Landgraf, a three-year ALRC member. Especially now due to the increase in thefts, Landgraf said the amount of security cameras on hand and the amount of licensed bars downtown were the themes of the evening Friday.
“They [Madison Police Department] have so many thefts that they don’t bother to investigate them [all],” Landgraf said.
The committee focused on the strip along University Avenue including Segredo’s, Johnny O’s and Wando’s, where several recent high-profile crimes occurred.
According to Landgraf, bars have installed security cameras to help prevent any wrongdoing, but it is difficult to combat the high amounts of theft that occur. He said the committee is able to request more cameras in bars located in areas of concern.
He also said the committee pays close attention to bars that have been reported for noise, over-capacity or crime.
“The biggest concern is to promote safety in the community so we don’t have operators that aren’t responsible,” University of Wisconsin’s Chancellor’s Appointee on the ALRC Tom Sieger said.
Mark Woulf, coordinator of the ALRC, said they are responsible to license downtown bars and follow up to determine whether they follow policy and ensure safety. He said the committee has a limited amount of licenses to issue in order to follow city regulations, including grandfather licenses, which require annual renewal, and reserved licenses, which require a deposit of $10,000.
Chad Crose, member of the Community Policing Team for MPD and Alcohol Liaison, said part of this policy is to ensure bartenders are not serving drinks to already intoxicated customers and enforcing other safety issues, such as maintaining capacity.
According to Landgraf, the downtown’s licensing has almost reached its capacity.
The committee deals with public safety and makes decisions to keep Madison safe, according to Ana Zambie, ALRC member. She said especially in a city where alcohol is potent, the ALRC is necessary to maintain awareness and is what every city needs.
“I definitely have seen what can happen [with] poor management and not embracing new ideas and moving forward,” Zambie said. “And I can see what it does to an economy, what it can do to a city and it’s nothing I would want for Madison.”
According to Woulf, T. Sushi is looking to raise capacity and wants the committee to license their upstairs space.
The ALRC has their next meeting Wednesday, where T. Sushi is on the agenda. If approved, the committee’s recommendation will go to the City Council.