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West Allis grants tavern license to Peruvian restaurant Chef Paz to serve cocktails, wine and beer

July 1, 2014

West Allis — The West Allis Common Council made a second exception in four months to what aldermen said is an exceptional restaurant and granted it a tavern license.

All but one alderman voted to give the Peruvian restaurant Chef Paz, 9039 W. National Ave., a license to serve cocktails as well as the beer and wine it has been allowed to serve since opening a couple of years ago.

City leaders are trying to reduce the number of taverns in the city by reducing the number of licenses it grants. The city is already four over its goal of 120 tavern licenses.

All but one of those licenses had been granted before the council reduced the goal last year. That license was for Urban Joe's Cafe in downtown West Allis. Aldermen said the restaurant is just the kind of interesting business they want to attract to the downtown. To protect its power to refuse new licenses to actual taverns, the council specified very narrow parameters that only Urban Joe's would be likely to meet.

Like Urban Joe's, Chef Paz is viewed as an asset to the city.

"This is an award-winning destination restaurant," said Alderman Marty Weigel who added that he has seen cars with Illinois license plates there.

"It's exactly the kind of place we want to give a tavern license to," said Alderman Tom Lajsic.

Restaurants like Chef Paz bring people into the city, said Alderwoman Cathleen Probst, and they improve the city's image.

"We have to keep our mind on the big picture," Probst said.

But Alderman Dan Roadt who cast the only vote against granting the license said the city should not grant a license to one applicant while denying one to another.

"I don't think we should be picking winners and losers," Roadt said.

Alderman Michael May had the opposite concern — that the city would lose its ability to grant licenses to exceptional establishments and deny them to the kinds of businesses that the city already has plenty of.

"If we allow this here, are our hands tied?" he asked.

The answer is no, Lajsic said.

"We lowered the quota ourselves to prevent proliferation of neighborhood taverns," Lajsic said. "This is not a neighborhood tavern."

It has shown that it is not a tavern or a sports bar, he said.

City attorney Scott Post said that if another "destination" restaurant asks for a tavern license, the council would have a hard time legally denying it.

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