Orpheum owner makes last attempt to save liquor license at city council meeting
Post by michael donnelly on 6/13/2012 8:40am
Pictured: Orpheum operator Eric Fleming listens as the council deliberates
Tuesday night, the city council voted based on the Alcohol License Review Committee's recommendations made during Monday's special session. Most passed without comment, but the Orpheum had some additional excitement. Eric Fleming, half owner of the Orpheum building and current operator of the business, said he didn't know about Monday's meeting and accused his estranged business partner, Henry Doane, of canceling the Orpheum's state permit that allows sales of alcohol. He is concerned about an interruption of the license because he has events scheduled and wants to make sure "the brides can still have their weddings."
After Fleming was done, Doane addressed the council. He says he didn't cancel the seller's permit, that nobody did so under his instruction, and he doesn't know who did it. He didn't even know there was an issue with the theater's liquor license until he heard about Monday's ALRC meeting.
Jeff Ketterhagen, catering and special events coordinator at the Orpheum first for Henry and now for Eric, repeated Fleming's concern. "I'm pleading more for the brides and the people who have stuff booked. Events book a year out, and obviously an alcohol license is important for these events." He agreed with Doane that a former employee with access to the state records system may have cancelled the license, and he complained that Fleming and Doane's feud was affecting other people.
Deputy City Attorney Patricia Lauten explained the legal situation to the council. "In April of 2011, the seller's permit . . . was deactivated. Any license that was issued to them in 2011 after that time is void.... Right now, legally, they don't have a license. There is nothing there to renew.... You're really not non-renewing because it's a void license anyway."
Alder Mike Verveer asked Lauten, "Are steps being made to make sure the Orpheum is not selling alcohol currently?" Lauten responded, "It is something our office is going to be looking into, probably in the next 24 hours, so I expect that there will be some decision and possibly some action."
Alder Bridget Maniaci suggested that "Individual catering operations can come into a venue and serve alcohol." Lauten agreed that this would be a legal way to allow events to continue.
Alder Chris Schmidt moved to accept the ALRC's recommendation to not renew the invalid license. This passes unanimously.
Michael Donnelly (@gomi_no_sensei) is president of dane101's board of directors, covers local politics, and assists Shane with technical management of the site. He also serves on the board of directors of the Tenant Resource Center. Originally from Rhode Island, Michael moved to Wisconsin in 1994 for school and to Madison in 1999 because Madison is excellent. He's been involved in dane101 since October, 2005.