Out of the fryer and into the fire, Mad City Frites’ request for an alcohol license consumed Tuesday’s City Council meeting and shed light on larger issues facing downtown.
Though Frites’ ultimately got its license in a 19-1 vote and will now be able to serve beer, Mayor Paul Soglin and City Council members’ had differing viewpoints not only on Frites’ request, but on State Street’s evolving nature and its future.
Soglin spoke against issuing an alcohol license to the State Street-located Frites. His opposition stemmed largely from his resistance to new beverage establishments on State Street, which he views as encroaching on its traditional atmosphere.
Soglin has long been opposed to the proliferation of beverage vendors, particularly alcoholic beverages, on State Street. He said traditional retail has faced increased pressure from internet commerce and the disparity in profitability compared with beverage establishments.
Ald. Maurice Cheeks, District 10, spoke in support of granting the alcohol license. He said the changing culture on State is a reflection of a generational shift worldwide as millennial consumers become the dominant market force.
While Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said Soglin’s concerns were legitimate, he backed the license request, saying Frites doesn’t pose any harm to the community at large.
Discussion went on for an hour primarily covering the broader issue of State Street culture before multiple alders requested further discussion on State Street policy be tabled for a future date.