The Madison City Council overrode a mayoral veto against a State Street restaurant’s alcohol license Tuesday evening, Sept. 15, but Mayor Paul Soglin promised further action against restaurants and bars.

Mad City Frites, located on the 300 block of State Street, won its alcohol license after a 19-1 vote at the Sept. 1 council meeting. Mayor Paul Soglin, however, strongly opposed the alcohol license at the Sept. 1 meeting, and vetoed the license in the following days.

The City Council introduced a measure to override the mayoral veto, which required 14 votes from the council. The override passed 19-1 at the next council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15.

The Class B Beer license allows Frites to serve 20 percent alcohol and 80 percent food.

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Joel Gratz, a Madison citizen who spoke at the meeting, called Soglin’s veto an attack on the specific business. Gratz cited the mayor’s ongoing preference for encouraging retail along State Street, but claimed Soglin was inhibiting the success of an already present restaurant.

“To veto this is to say that we hope that [Mad City Frites] fails, so that this spot will be available as a retail spot,” Gratz said.

When Gratz required an additional minute to complete his speech, Soglin called his presentation a “rant.”

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Soglin addressed both public safety and his desired increase in retail along State Street in his response. He said the number of places that serve alcohol along State Street is a public safety concern.

“The issue of public safety is of great concern, and those of you who have walked State Street between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night know what I am speaking of,” Soglin said.

The safety of individuals in the State Street area follows from Soglin’s commitment to maintaining the street as a retail destination. A successful retail sector is key to the development and maintenance of a healthy downtown, Soglin said.

The focus on retail has been well documented throughout county plans and propositions in past years, and Soglin is not yet prepared to “abandon” the idea.

“If we want to abandon State Street as a retail destination, then let’s do so with public discussion, let’s do so with public dialogue, let’s do so in a fashion fitting of Madison,” Soglin said. “I will not be silenced. Whether the vote is 19-1 or 20-0, I feel that strongly about the commitment we have to 240,000 people.”

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Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, disclosed in a private meeting with the mayor, Soglin said he would likely veto all future State Street liquor licenses until the city’s ongoing assessment of the downtown area is complete, which could take up to two years.

Mad City Frites staff were “caught in the crosshairs” of Soglin’s determination to discourage further food and beverage proliferation on State Street, Verveer said.

“I’m relieved but not surprised that the council overwhelmingly overrode the mayor’s veto of the beer license,” Verveer said. “Although I am sympathetic with the mayor’s argument, I think it was misguided for him to use the beer license as a way to draw a line in the sand for future liquor licenses on State Street.”