Madison is looking to increase the number of campus-area bars that are not allowed to let people in late on weekend nights as part of a strategy to reduce fighting and other criminal activity in the area.
Seven establishments — including Wando’s on University Avenue and State Street Brats — had conditions added to their licenses last year that prohibit them from allowing people in after 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, even if they were previously in the bar that night.
Madison police Central District Capt. Jason Freedman said the prohibition is one of several strategies the city has implemented amid a rise in police calls to the area in recent years.
The “violence and other negative behaviors associated with college students and alcohol” Downtown hasn’t changed, he said.
“However, several years ago we started to see more and more non-college people” Downtown, he said. “Many of these individuals who come have different behaviors and some of them are gang-involved or affiliated. Some of them are armed. Thus we have our longtime baseline of violence and issues associated with students plus newcomers who are committing violent acts.”
Ald. Mike Verveer, who represents the core Downtown area and sits on the city’s Alcohol License Review Committee, said police believe those with violent histories tend to come Downtown late on weekend evenings, and barring their entry to bars discourages them from causing trouble.
Freedman said the no-late-entry policy has had a “very positive” effect and so police are pushing to expand it. Verveer said there’s been a grudging acceptance of the condition among some of the bars where it was imposed last year.
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Among the nine establishments that would be subject to the provision beginning with license renewals July 1 are the Kollege Klub, 529 N. Lake St.; Mondays, 523 State St.; and the Red Rock Saloon, 322 W. Johnson St.
It’s not clear how they will react. An employee at Red Rock confirmed the bar was preparing to implement the policy, but Gary Garten, who owns Mondays, said the condition runs afoul of state law because it treats establishments differently.
He declined to say whether he intended to take legal action, but said the Tavern League of Wisconsin “is going to fight it.”
The city’s ALRC is also moving toward revoking or not renewing the liquor license held by the city’s only strip club, Visions Night Club, 3554 E. Washington Ave., in light of criminal activity, including a shooting last year, at or near the site.
The city also isn’t sure who is running the establishment after its longtime owner, Tom Reichenberger, died March 13 at the age of 75.
The person who answered the phone at Visions on Friday said the club plans to continue operations under its other owner, then the connection was lost.
In January, Reichenberger entered a notice of claim with the city of his intention to file a defamation suit against former Ald. David Ahrens, who had publicly accused the establishment of contributing to crime in the area.
Reichenberger’s attorney in the matter, Jeff Scott Olson, said no final decisions have been made about what will happen with the complaint, although he said the corporation that owns Visions could still pursue it. The attorney handling Reichenberger’s probate case did not respond to requests for comment Friday.