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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 17, 2024
tipsy cow

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin's proposal would increase fees for sidewalk space for businesses. 

Downtown business owners formulate alternate proposal to sidewalk fee hike

Some downtown restaurant and retail owners voiced their opposition to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s proposal to increase license fees for downtown sidewalk patios in recent weeks.

Currently, the annual license fee for sidewalk cafes is based on the number of chairs seated in the space, with the cost ranging from $35 to $45 per chair. The total cost is between $400 and $750 per year.

Under the new ordinance, restaurant owners would instead be charged according to the size of their patio rising incrementally to $13 per square foot in 2018.

This surpasses the price for owners in other Midwestern cities, such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

George Frank is the managing partner of Food Fight Inc., which operates The Coopers Tavern, DLUX and Cento in downtown Madison. In August, Frank formed and other restaurant owners formed a group to create an alternative to the patio proposal, which they introduced to the mayor last Friday.

“Although I don’t have any philosophical issue with a fee increase, I have a problem with the pricing structure,” Frank said.

Instead of $13 per square foot, Frank’s group suggested an incremental increase to $5.50.

Frank noted not all owners agreed with him, but that Soglin “seemed to be open to our suggestions.”

In July, Soglin introduced the ordinance as an attempt to create a more fair market for retailers, according to a city staff report.

Tipsy Cow owner Michael Banas also opposes the proposed increase. Banas stated he and other restaurant operators are working together to decide if they agree with a fee increase at all.

“It is very difficult to go back on a decision like this, so patience and time is a must,” Banas said. “We hope that the city officials see the need to come up with a well-thought out solution.”


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