Sophie Bolich

City Could Close Midtown Culver’s

Following last week's 3-1 vote for non-renewal, Common Council moves to grant second hearing for restaurant.

By - Jul 28th, 2022 01:49 pm
Culver's. Photo by flickr user tengrrl. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Culver’s. Photo by flickr user tengrrl. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Culver’s restaurant at Midtown Center, 5501 W. Fond du Lac Ave., faces an uncertain future following Thursday’s Common Council meeting.

Last week, the Licenses Committee voted 3-1 to deny the renewal of its license because of the police report associated with the Capitol Heights neighborhood business. If affirmed by the full council, it would close the business.

But the full council is poised to give owner Myron Smith another hearing.

Alderman Mark Borkowski moved to block the renewal last week at a meeting where only three board members were present. Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs abstained from the vote, noting that several aldermanic districts currently lack representation.

The Midtown Culver’s is one such business without representation, located in the second aldermanic district, which was formerly represented by Mayor Cavalier Johnson before his April election.

“These are delicate issues in districts that are not represented currently,” Ald. Coggs said at last week’s meeting. “Some of these licenses have major issues that, because we don’t represent those districts, it’s extremely difficult to make a decision about what exactly should happen with a license.”

Thursday, Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II and Alderman Khalif Rainey backed Coggs’ assessment, leading the council in a unanimous vote to send the case back to the licenses committee.

Smith defended himself without an attorney. During an appearance before the council, he said that his establishment has zero tolerance for violence, but the restaurant is often involuntarily involved in outside clashes and blamed a high school located near the business. At least two of the five incidents that warranted police intervention last year involved “groups of teenagers,” according to police reports. Other incidents involved an armed robbery and a female employee accusing a male manager of sexual assault (inappropriate touching) during work.

A police report on the alleged assault states that police called Smith and left a voicemail. Smith said he returned the call, but that police were unable to make further contact with the female employee, who had been terminated prior to the incident.

Smith said that he works closely with police and maintains a full-time, armed security guard.

“We will maintain and continue to work on maintaining a safe environment,” he said. “That’s my number one concern.”

Despite these incidents, Smith said that community members appreciate the restaurant.

“Some have said it’s an oasis in the community,” he said.

A second hearing would take place in September. Until then, the restaurant is operating under a provisional renewal license, which expires Sept. 27.

Borkowski said that he would keep an open mind at the upcoming hearing, but said that “businesses should know that they need to be positive contributors to the community.”

The restaurant is one of three Culver’s located in the city proper. It opened in 2004 under a different owner.

Earlier this summer, the council voted to close a Burger King located just down the street at 5120 W. Capitol Dr. The final blow to the establishment was an inside-job shooting, but aldermen at the hearing noted an ongoing culture of violence and weapon-carrying at the location.

Categories: Food & Drink, Weekly

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