City News

Soglin says no más to local liquor licenses, vetoes approval for State Street Taco Bell

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed a liquor license Monday for the incoming State Street Taco Bell. 

Image By: Leah Voskuil

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed an alcohol license for the new Taco Bell Cantina on Monday, citing safety concerns and unnecessary costs.

“We have enough alcohol outlets in the city of Madison,” Soglin said. “The cost to the city is too great.”

Soglin said that although the Madison Police Department has seen a reduction in homicide over the last four months, there were instances where “officers could not apprehend dangerous individuals because of the alcohol-fueled crowds.”

In order to assist local law enforcement, Soglin said that among other plans, he intends to control the amount of liquor in the area. He said adding a liquor license would “make no sense.”

Soglin said fast-food chains are pushing to add beer and wine to add revenue.

“It’s a corporate plan by Taco Bell to make money,” he said.

Soglin said he hopes to stop issuing licenses first in the State Street area and second to fast-food restaurants.

He confirmed he “would be inclined to veto any kind of license for this kind of operation anywhere in the city” and said he’d only qualify full-scale restaurants or restaurants in hotels. 

“We have enough outlets in the city of Madison, there’s no question about that,” he said. “It’s about time we recognize the issuance of a liquor license is not a right — it’s a privilege.”

Instead, Soglin hopes to reinvest in local retail, referencing a report by the city’s planning division showing that ground-floor retail establishments have shrunk since 1989. Conversely, bar and restaurant establishments in the area have increased from 20 to 48.

“I really believe that we preserve the character of this city in terms of having quality retail,” Soglin said. “I’m not ready to concede that brick and mortar retail is dead.”

Soglin last vetoed an alcohol license for Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza last year although the decision was overruled by city council members.

Correction: Mayor Soglin last vetoed a license for Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza in 2016, not Mad City Frites in 2015. 

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