In an effort to reduce the amount of alcohol-serving establishments on State Street, Madison’s Alcohol License Review Committee denied a downtown restaurant’s application for a liquor license Wednesday evening. 

In a 3-2 vote, the committee denied Laura Garden — a restaurant set to open on the 500 block of State Street — a proper liquor license. The committee raised concern with opening yet another alcohol-serving established on the already liquor-crowded 500 block.

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Ald. Ledell Zellers, District 2, pointed to the safety issue on State Street when considering approval for the license. 

“Alcohol license is a privilege — not a right. I’m concerned about the density of alcohol licenses on State Street and we do really need to be cautious,” she said.

Laila D’Costa, a member of Mayor Paul Soglin’s administrative staff, spoke on behalf of the mayor during the meeting, addressing a comment he had made on the application.   

In the past, Soglin has been a vocal advocate for revitalizing retail on State Street and cutting down on the amount of alcohol-serving establishments.

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“The mayor does not approve granting the license. He has been very consistent in focusing on the future of the downtown area,” D’Costa said. “We’ll continue the mix-use of retail, business and establishments.” 

The current downtown plan focuses on creating a mix-use of small, local retail businesses.

In addition to reshaping the downtown area, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, also expressed his concern over the numerous police records relating to the building owner.

“I wasn’t convinced that this will be a bonafide restaurant because we had issues with the applicant’s family in the past with operating State Street establishments,” Verveer said.

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Allegedly, one of the building owner’s properties had records of illegally operating a night club within the restaurant, Verveer said. 

Xi Wang, the restaurant owner, defended herself, saying the restaurant had nothing to do with the property owner.

“It’s hard to accept the result because I’m not the one who had police records,” Wang said. “I should not be blamed for my family members’ faults considering my clear background.”  

Wang’s application for the liquor license will be reconsidered at the Feb. 7 City Council meeting.