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Wednesday, 09 February 2011
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Another Business Denied in Wauwatosa

No business for you says the Wauwatosa Planning Commission to Dominic Lalicata. For those of you who don't know, the Applebee's next to the Sentry on 68th and State is closing, and Dominic wants to open a Mad Dog Saloon in it's place. Tuesday was his second time in front of the Wauwatosa Planning Commission, and it was his second denial. Last time he was denied because he apparently didn't have enough details, and because the Mayor heard some rumors about his location in West Allis. Apparently rumor is enough to deny a business to someone... not fact.

This time, the commissioners decided they needed something more, so they ginned up false concerns about having a bar next to a grocery store:

If patrons who have imbibed in alcohol drive through the busy parking lot shared by Metcalfe's Market, it could result in disaster, commissioners said Monday night.

The shopping carts, cars backing in and out and parents with young children in tow are the norm in the lot that sees peak business of 300 to 400 customers per hour between 4 and 8 p.m. Friday and up to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, said grocery store owner Kevin Metcalfe.

Now let's take a step back for a moment here. First of all, driving while impaired is already illegal, and saying that imbibing and then pulling out of a grocery store parking lot is somehow incredibly dangerous is just foolish. And let's not forget that Applebee's had a bar, and served alcohol as well. So there have already been plenty of people "imbibing" and driving in that lot already. Is Applebee's alcohol somehow different than Mad Dog's?

And the reality is that you aren't going to have parents with children grocery shopping at peak bar time... typically between 9PM and close. That's when parents are tucking their children into bed and reading to them.

And as my lovely fiancee pointed out:

Are there not several bars across the street from Hart Park? Isn't that wildly unsafe, according to these standards? I do believe some families (with small children) even park in front of said bars while en route to baseball games, etc. Oh, the horror!

Not only that, but one of the most popular bar's in Wauwatosa (Cafe Hollander) has most of it's patrons sharing the city parking lot with Hart Park next to tennis courts and volleyball courts. Why no concern there?

This is a pretty standard problem with the planning commission in Wauwatosa. They love to play with other people's money. Applebee's went out, and now we have to find the "right kind of business" to go in it's place. They aren't risking their own money, and they aren't going to do any of the heavy lifting, or any real work, but somehow they think that they deserve to put their fingers in everything. This was made clear during last month's meeting:

Both on the commission and in the audience, some openly suggested the Village would be better served by a family restaurant rather than another tavern.

When LaLicata initially proposed his a tavern in Greenfield to the city's Plan Commission years ago, he emphasized the amount of food service the business would generate. But when it came down to it, the business was much more bar than grill.

If they want the right kind of business to go into that space, then why don't any of them lease out the space, get a small business loan from a bank, and get to work? And forgive me, but is there an ordinance that says that businesses in that area have to be "family friendly"? Did anyone stop and think that maybe one of the reasons that Applebee's was unsuccessful was because there just isn't that much demand for "family friendly" restaurants in that area? Perhaps putting a different type of business in that space is what will make it successful. At the very least, it's his money to risk if he's wrong.

Unfortunately, I was out of town during this last planning commission meeting, but I intend to be at the next Community Development Committee meeting where this will be discussed on Feb. 22nd.

# Posted at 21:34 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link No Comments  |  No Trackbacks

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