The Alcohol License Review Committee unanimously approved Frank Productions, the temporary managers of the Orpheum, for a liquor license at a meeting Monday night.
The ALRC recently denied the Orpheum a liquor license last June under its previous ownership. In order for the venue to re-open, it must obtain a liquor license.
Owner of Frank Productions Fred Frank said the company made a deal with the Monona State Bank when the Orpheum closed down to operate the theater into the foreclosure process.
“We have an extensive history and background of producing events and what we really want to do is turn the lights back on State Street and bring some life back into that theater,” Frank said. “We think we can attract a lot of people downtown; not only the student body but the young professionals.”
Frank said his intent is to make the Orpheum an all-age venue, and as a result, the committee decided to deny Frank Productions an entertainment license and instead recommended it apply for a theater license.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, added the Orpheum has always historically obtained a theater license, along with many other venues in the Madison area. Verveer said he is thankful Frank Productions has decided to take this temporary management on.
“It has been a tremendous loss having the Orpheum be dark for most of this year and on a gradual decline longer than that,” Verveer said.
Frank stressed the Orpheum will only operate as a theater and will close its doors once the show is over. He said it does not wish to operate it as a bar and added the venue will not be open if there is not a performance taking place.
According to Frank, Frank Productions has major acts booked every Saturday night in February and hopes there will be around 800 to 1,000 people in the theater at that time.
The Orpheum will consist of only the live entertainment Frank Productions books, oversees and controls, according to Frank. He said in its current foreclosure stage, he does not plan on opening the venue to weddings but may look into an opportunity to hold the Wisconsin Film Festival.
The committee also revisited noise complaints at Whiskey River Saloon as a condition of its previous liquor license renewal. Many residents who live above and near the venue have complained it gets too loud at night.
According to Clint WhiteHorse, special event producer and manager of Badger State DJs, the noise level is lower than in previous years. He said since the complaints began, Whiskey River Saloon turned down its amplifiers.
If the complaints continue, the ALRC will revisit the issue when it applies for the license renewal next spring, Verveer said.
Similar to the Whiskey River Saloon, the ALRC was also asked to review the status of noise complaints from Plan B. Several residents in the neighborhood surrounding Plan B said they had trouble sleeping at night due to noise coming from the nightclub.
ALRC Alcohol Policy Coordinator Mark Woulf said the nightclub has taken steps since its license was renewed last June, such as making the dance floor soundproof.
The committee will accept an update from the club in February after the renovations are complete.
Due to a lack of entertainment for students ages 18 to 21, ALRC Student Rep. and Legislative Affairs Vice Chair Rachel Lepak said she sent out a survey to the University of Wisconsin student body about this type of entertainment.
She said 91 percent of respondents thought entertainment was targeted toward people who are 21 years old and older, would be willing to pay at least $15 for 18- to 21-year-old entertainment and said they would prefer if it were on campus due to transportation issues.
“There are many opportunities and routes for this to go,” Woulf said. “We’ll keep this on the radar and we assume this will come back to the ALRC. This is a very positive first step to have a baseline of knowledge of what exactly the student body wants.”
The City Council will discuss the liquor license for the Orpheum and will have the final vote at its meeting Dec. 11.