Licenses and Permits: Liquor license shortage an issue for committee

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KENOSHA ⏤ On Monday evening, the Licenses and Permits Committee faced an issue that is bound to happen in a city with many taverns: There are only a few liquor licenses left. 

Kenosha Licenses and Permits Committee Chairman Ald. Curt Wilson told those in attendance as much at the 4:30 p.m. meeting. His comments came before the committee was to consider three new liquor license applications. 

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As of Monday, only two Class B liquor licenses are available for the city to give out. 

“We can have 153 licenses, choose to have 153 licenses,” Wilson said, adding that the committee could approve, deny or defer any of the applicants.

“We also don’t have to grant any of the three.”

First license application: Martini Lounge/Cortney Marshall

Courtney Marshall and his attorney Anthony Nudo were first to address  the committee hoping to obtain a liquor license for Martini Lounge at 515 57th St. 

However, it soon became apparent that Marshall would be facing an uphill battle.

Dist. 2 Ald. Bill Siel first voiced the committee’s seeming resistance, stemming from an incident at another establishment Marshall owned in March 2019. 

At that time, police were called to the former Finney’s Sports Bar at 2208 60th St. for a noise complaint. 

According to the Kenosha Police Department Tavern Squad, the incident took place in the basement of the building. Upon arriving, officers and patrons soon had to deal with the fact that pepper spray had been deployed in the area. 

This caused patrons to move up the stairs from the basement ⏤ the only means of exit ⏤ quickly. 

In the process, a teenage girl was trampled. 

“Patrons started funneling out of the tavern, which caused a problem on the stairs leading out; people were getting trampled over,” a Tavern Squad representative reported Monday night. 

“As (officers) were arriving, shots were being fired in the area, and officers ducked behind squad cars and helped get patrons to cover.”

Ultimately, police cited Marshall for not having an entertainment license for the event. 

Other group renting when previous license violation occurred

Earlier in the meeting, Marshall had described the incident in more vague terms. 

“I did have a license, but it wasn’t on display,” Marshall explained. “And we rented out the location to another group, and I guess they never applied for a one-day permit or a special event permit. And I got notification that the police department was there for whatever reason. 

“I showed up, and obviously, I got a ticket for not having a cabaret license on display.”

After some discussion, Siel made a motion to deny, based on license density, proximity to a church and public safety and welfare concerns. 

“Any beverage you want you can get two times over in a block and a half, two-block walk in any direction,” Siel said. 

“… This brings a lot of concerns. And it’s an industry that requires a lot of attention on our part.”

Ald. Shayna Griffin voiced her support of the denial due to the concentration of licenses in that area. 

“Also, there’s a church within 300 feet of the establishment,” Griffin said.

The committee voted to deny the application, which will next go to the City Council with a recommendation to officially deny. 

Second license application:  Pin High Golf Entertainment/Golf Kenosha/Martin Brukwicki

Likewise, because of the license shortage, the second applicant, too, faced a seemingly uphill battle. 

Pin High Golf Entertainment, to operate in the city at 8304 75th St. as Golf Kenosha, ran into the same tell-tale signs as Martini Lounge for impending denial: density of licenses and a desire to hold the remaining two for future development ⏤ which is the reason Ald. Wilson said he would not support the project.

However, the story changed when Brukwicki decided to explain how the business is more than a “tavern”. In fact, the business will be a completely indoor golf facility, open seven days a week. It would also offer some food and beverage options.

The unique element about the project is that it’s not your traditional driving range or course. It will entail seven simulator bays, allowing players to golf with people all around the world if they so choose.

“This is something, again, that is different,” Brukwicki told the committee. “It brings people together to do something collectively, as opposed to just sit there and drink. Yes, drinks are a part of it. But this is an interactive experience. It’s technology ⏤ like I said, it’s proprietary, the best in the world. 

“And it’s interactive in terms of I could be here playing around and golfing with someone down in Florida or the United Kingdom or Arizona.”

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‘Strictly golf’

He also stated that the patrons come there “looking solely to play golf” and are a “well-behaved crowd” at the company’s other locations. 

“And it’s not going to be this entertainment venue where we’re going to have a cabaret presence or anything to that point. It’s strictly a golf entertainment facility that happens to have a limited food menu ⏤ all of it done with the air fryer, no greases or oils or anything like that. 

“But the liquor license is an extremely integral part.”

Following his comments, Griffin voiced her support.

“I like what you’re going to bring. I think it’s different. And it’s not focused solely around liquor. I would be in support of this,” she said, making a motion to approve the application.

Ruffalo, Griffin and Siel voted to approve the application with Wilson voting against. It will next go to the City Council for consideration and possible final approval.

Third application: Betty and Ronalds

Betty and Ronalds, located at 2105 22nd Ave., submission served as the last application up for consideration Monday night.

While a representative, the business’ chef, attended the meeting, Siel made a motion ultimately to defer action on the application until the committee’s next meeting in two weeks so that the owner, Naketha Campbell, could be there to answer the committee’s questions.

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