Late Wednesday night, Madison’s Alcoholic License Review Committee met to discuss the liquor license for the up-and-coming Taco Bell Cantina on State Street.
Set to open on Dec. 15, the Taco Bell Cantina requested a liquor license to serve beer and wine at their establishment, in addition to their normal food menu. If approved, Taco Bell would be allowed to serve beer and wine, not other alcoholic beverages.
Members of the committee were concerned about adding more alcohol to the State Street area in light of a recent uptick in alcohol-related crimes within that region.
Pat Eulberg, the representative for Taco Bell, said their company is pursuing initiatives to make this establishment safe for Madison.
“We’ve heard previous operators didn’t spend a lot of time or efforts on issues regarding safety or security,” he said. “We will change that.”
He said designers added bright lighting and windows to expose the area to public view and create a positive environment.
He added the premises will have 16 surveillance cameras within the restaurant and a TV monitor at the entrance.
Employees who serve alcohol at Taco Bell are required to pass the Responsible Service of Alcohol Program, he said. This is not a self-serve establishment.
“This is not a bar,” he said. “It is a food-focused operation, and families are welcome.”
The Taco Bell Cantinas located in Berkeley, California and Austin, Texas, each near large college campuses, have not had incidences of alcohol-related crimes, he said.
Alder Paul E. Skidmore, District 9, expressed his disapproval of the license proposal as he said the alcohol market is being oversaturated in downtown Madison.
“Do I think the establishment will be an issue? No,” Skidmore said. “It is the location that’s a problem.”
In response to similar grievances, ALRC voted to form a subcommittee dedicated to discussing liquor licenses to establishments that typically don’t serve alcohol, such as Taco Bell.
This subcommittee will not have any influence on the Taco Bell liquor license, Alder Mike Verveer, District 4, said. It will, however, have influence in future decisions of liquor licenses.
Later in the evening, ALRC heard from Jim Long, a University of Wisconsin employee who works with I.D. scanning technology at Memorial Union.
Alcohol enforcement issues and advanced fake I.D.’s have brought attention to the need for these scanners, he said.
The scanner the Union currently uses is called the AIDD-1000, a technology that has tripled the amount of collected fake I.D.’s, he said.
ALRC approved Taco Bell Cantina’s liquor license in a 5-2 vote. The approval will be voted on by the Madison Common Council on Dec. 5. If passed here, the approval will go to Mayor Soglin.
“I expect Mayor Soglin to veto this proposal,” Verveer said. “He’s expressed he’s not in favor of alcohol at Taco Bell.”