City News

State Street Taco Bell is lawyering up, sues City of Madison over liquor license

Image By: Gina Heeb

The franchiser of Taco Bell announced today a lawsuit against the City of Madison, for the unfair denial of a liquor license, furthering the months-long battle over alcohol sales at the restaurant's new Cantina on State Street.

The restaurant chain is claiming that their liquor license was unfairly denied on the grounds that weeks after their denial, the city issued a license to a similar establishment, Chen’s Dumpling House, across the street.

Originally, the city’s Common Council originally approved the license, but it was then vetoed by Mayor Soglin, and did not garner enough votes for a veto-override.

“The City’s approval of the Chen’s application proves there is no evidence or rational basis for the finding that granting Bell’s License Application would undermine public safety,” the complaint stated.

Soglin vetoed the original application on the grounds of “public safety.”

“[Issuing a license to this location would have] enormous costs for the residents of Madison and our city government by contributing to the alcohol related problems, downtown, potentially including violence and raising the cost of policing,” Soglin stated, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that Soglin’s evidence of alcohol related crime all occured on University Avenue, and therefore the denial of Taco Bell’s license was “arbitrary and capricious.”

According to the complaint, various Madison Alders were concerned that the denial of Taco Bell’s license was arbitrary.

“I don’t know how we can call ourselves ‘policy makers’ and vote [to uphold] the veto with the Mayor, because we would be making a decision with the absence of a policy at the detriment of a business, regardless of it it’s a national chain or whatever,” Alder Phair said, according to the complaint.

Taco Bell is asking the city of Madison for the approval of their liquor license and “recoverable costs” for the revenue the restaurant would have made had the original license been approved.

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