‘There is no plan folks’: Canopy club denied liquor license

Alcohol License Review Committee members said there was still no solid plan in place

MADISON, Wis. — The Alcohol License Review Committee unanimously voted 7-0 to deny Canopy owner Austin Carl a liquor license at its meeting Wednesday.

This comes after months of controversy over Carl’s plans to open a cafe/ nightclub in the former Prism and Plan B Nightclub building on Willy Street.

Carl faced opposition at last month’s meeting from community members and ALRC committee members who were concerned about noise levels, parking, crime, and overall plans for the space.

At the ALRC meeting Wednesday, Carl said he originally wanted to open as a cafe/ lounge but city ordinances and his lease prevented him from doing so. Carl said he changed his business plans to open as a nightclub until he could work out an agreement to open as a cafe/ lounge.

“We are a nightclub but we are offering art classes and we have seating as a lounge,” Carl said at the meeting. “I hope we can rectify and create a bridge back toward the community where they feel we are an asset, not a liability.”

Alder Sheri Carter asked Carl: “Why not do your homework before signing a lease?”. Carter continued questioning why Carl signed a lease before trying to re-negotiate the terms of business.

“You have not shown us you have the experience you need to run a nightclub,” Carter said.

ALRC member Michael Donnelly also questioned Carl’s future business plans. He told Carl: “You have a lease that very explicitly states you are only allowed to operate as a nightclub.”

A Madison police officer who was also at the meeting implored the committee to deny the license saying, “There is no plan folks. It becomes more and more clear to me on every question that is asked of Mr. Carl that the plan is subject to change, it is in the wind depending on who he talks to or who gets back to him or how he follows up with people.”

After the final vote, ALRC members praised Carl for his determination in getting this far as a first-time business owner and they encouraged Carl to “pursue his dreams.” Many members said if Carl ever were to find the right location to open the cafe/ lounge he wants, they would be the first to support his decision.

“This should not be the end of the road for you. This should be the beginning,” Carter said.