City News

Nacho decision: Judge rules city must give State Street Taco Bell liquor license

A Dane County judge ruled Friday that the State Street Taco Bell should receive its liquor license after Madison Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed it last December. 

Image By: Gina Heeb

The Taco Bell on State Street will soon be serving alcohol after a Dane County judge ruled in favor of the restaurant in their lawsuit against the city over a rejected liquor license. 

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed the license, which had been approved by the City Council, in December 2017. He claimed additional establishments serving alcohol would make the area more dangerous and increase costs for the police department.

“Adding more liquor outlets to the area, even if they close early, makes no sense,” Soglin wrote at the time. “We have more than enough liquor outlets in our city … this one is not necessary.”

Bell Great Lakes LLC, Taco Bell’s parent company, sued the city in April over Soglin’s “arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, and unreasonable denial” of the license. They pointed to licenses granted to other establishments in the area as evidence of Soglin’s discrimination against Taco Bell. 

“The Defendant’s decision was so unreasonable that it shocks the sense of justice and indicates a lack of fair and careful consideration,” Bell wrote in a complaint. 

Dane County Judge Rhonda Lanford ruled in favor of Bell Friday, ordering the city to grant the license. 

The ruling is the second blow in a month to Soglin’s efforts to limit alcohol availability downtown. The City Council voted in early December to dismiss a motion proposed by Soglin to temporarily ban new liquor licenses on State Street and the surrounding area.   

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