April 13, 2009

Committee rejects Sixth Street convenience and liquor store

Michael Choi (left) with the Chuns at Monday's Public Safety and Licensing Committee meeting.

A proposed convenience and liquor store on Sixth Street failed to win support of the City Council’s Public Safety and Licensing Committee.

Caroline Chun and her father applied for a license to sell alcohol in the former Horst Music Store at 420 Sixth St. The store, named Lakeside Pantry, would have been about 75 percent grocery items and 25 percent alcohol.

But the proposal met strong opposition from neighboring business owners. Several spoke Monday night and told the committee they’d support a convenience store, but not one that sells alcohol.

The Chuns tried to placate the opposition by agreeing not to sell single cans of beer, including malt liquor. But the gesture didn’t sway the committee, which voted unanimously against their proposal.

Michael Choi, who owns the restaurants Shogun and Asiana and helped open Olde Madrid, owns the building the Chuns wanted to use for the convenience and liquor store. Choi helped the Chuns addressed the committee, translating questions for them and answering some for them.

Aldermen Terry McCarthy, Aron Wisneski and Jim Kaplan spoke against the liquor store after about 20 minutes of questions about the business plan. The aldermen each said they felt the store selling alcohol on Sixth Street jeopardized an area that the city has worked hard to clean up in recent years.

“I am concerned this would create a lot of foot traffic in what is one of the major thoroughfares in and out of Downtown,” Wisneski said.

Kaplan said he supported 75 percent of the plan, but not the 25 percent involving alcohol. He added he couldn’t support the plan “knowing the history of Sixth Street.”

McCarthy said he was happy with the Chuns’ answers to the committee’s questions, but had to listen to the business owners’ concerns.

“I just have a hard time supporting a full liquor license in this area,” he said.


  1. yeah, we would not want foot traffic on sixth street. jeez!

  2. Yeah I was thinking the same thing, what kind of idiotic comment was that about foot traffic? I'd think they'd welcome foot traffic!

    Why doesn't he say what he really means?

  3. What a bunch of Racist!!! You have to be white to open a business in this city. Foot traffic, that is what is suppose to happen on Sixth Street. Now what are you going to put there?? I believe that this city is prime for a lawsuit and the sooner the better. What a bunch of anti business crap and they sit there and rationalize with someone else,s livelihood. You did not worry about JJ when you gave them their Liscense and you did not worry about Doug when you gave him his Liscense. it is time for a test case and get the federal government in here to investigate. Now!!!!!!

  4. Way to slap business people in the face who have spent lots of money and opened businesses downtown. No, they aren't business geniuses like the DRC or other VERY successful business people down there - like the ones who get together regularly and whine about business being lousy. Who are the "neighboring business owners" so I can make sure not to spend a dime there?

  5. concrete katie4/14/2009 7:13 AM

    Yes, the few who orchestrated this travesty need to be called out. From listening to them at a prior meeting I can tell you that not one of them lived on the street and most were bar owners.

  6. I see now one has to be rich and white to have a business on 6th st!
    Well White at least.

  7. I have often thought that the liquor licensing process is seriously flawed and that it leaves the city open for discrimination lawsuits. The idea that neighboring businesses or residents can, in effect, prevent other businesses from opening, is frightening. What is needed is an objective criteria for approving or rejecting licenses. From the sounds of things here, racism is not the problem. Rather, it seems that some businesses would prefer not to have competition. I hope someone challenges the city's licensing process in court some day.

  8. It's a good thing my assessment goes up every year so the city can collect more of my money - this makes up for the stupidity of not allowing new businesses to open.

  9. Denis

    I am sure one day something like this case will get to court, The City will lose and the tax payers out the money.
    Note JJ = White DRC backer
    Doug = White DRC backer

    The Chun's not so much so. If it walks like a duck...

    IMHO DRC looking out to keep Downtown Racine rich and white

  10. It's the wrong type of "foot traffic;" i.e., real people from a real neighborhood that abuts downtown. Downtown is NOT for the people who live nearby - us neighbors already know that.

  11. concrete katie4/14/2009 9:08 AM

    Yes, orbs, we are upscale. Haven't you noticed? As a friend of mine said who owns a storefront on the street and no longer has interest in opening anything in this town-without-leadership, "these people are delusional." I think we should all become dollar stores, make lots of money, sell our buildings for $600,000 and get out of here.

  12. Thank you to the licensing committee! I can't believe how many people wanted to ghetto up 6th Street with a convenience store.

  13. Colt, I am white and I am a member of DRC and I oppose the liquor licensing policy of Racine because it is arbitrary. If DRC has taken a position on the issue, I am unaware of it.

    Assuming that you are correct that Doug and JJ are opposing the convenience/liquor store, what makes you think that racism would be the primary motivation? A far more plausible explanation would be financial insofar as they would be eliminating some competition.

    To Dustin or Pete, a suggestion. On what grounds did the unidentified local businesspeople object to the convenience/liquor store? If they wish to use their influence to affect public policy, then their views should be subject to public scrutiny. Is there an attempt here to protect the identity of these businesspeople?

  14. It doesn't stop there. I have a friend who owned a resale shop on Washington ave. She was harrassed constantly about her windows, signage etc. Finally she relocated. Then I started to notice that most of the resale shops on Washington and West racine are gone. I used to visit the childrens resale on 6th but now that is some boutique. All they want is art galleries and coffee shops.

  15. A gun shop next to a tavern and across from a day care and giving away AK47's is OK, but a much needed store in the downtown area is not? Racine sucks!

  16. concrete katie4/14/2009 10:51 AM

    I agree with Denis. The anti convenience store people should be identified. To Ghetto up: This downtown has so few people in it that I know exactly who you are. The citizens on various advisory committees should be identified too...you know the people who get appointed by DPW or Development and then do not talk to any of their neighbors about anything. Mount Pleasant has nothing on downtown when it comes to over control. Denis, the DRC was involved in this latest licensing matter insofar as they assisted in a series of emails via their email address list. They let their membership people on the street loose but did not speak out at the Park 6 meeting. This seems to have everything to do with too many bars downtown. So let's pick on a convenience store. What a joke.

  17. Denis - what you don't know would fill a book.

  18. Downtown Brown4/14/2009 12:02 PM

    In the photo attached to this story, I saw Jeff Coe, and he seems to be standing up to support he Choi and Chun's in their endeavor. I'd like to know whether Dickert or Turner were on this issue. It seems to me the Chun's were prepared to eliminate Single item alcohol purchases. I am sure if the Grocery items were reasonably priced they could make a great business support those of us who live and work in the area. From Orb's and Katie to me.

    Here we have an example of someone wanting to invest in our Central city, and not attempting to open a Ghetto grocery, I know Mr. Choi would do everything to keep the quality and image appropriate.

    As to the Racist comments I think that's ridiculous. There are many Asian owned businesses in the Downtown, including some of the finest Restaurants in SE Wisc. Several Latino and Black businesses. Now is the goal of us merchants Downtown to continue to RAISE the quality of our products and appeal to a hirer income customer. I see no problem with that.
    Does Neiman Marcus go out of it's way to appeal to the Wal-Mart customer?? No business target the clients they hope to sell to. I have some inexpensive items but I am committed to being the Racine and SE Wisconsin's Best location for my product.
    I hope business that come to our City will gain the reputation for Wisconsin's finest products.

    Dustin can we see the vote on this item??

  19. JJ McAuliffe4/14/2009 12:30 PM

    I read these blogs and some of the most stupid comments that come with it and it's just sad. Do any of you people acually go to any meetings and attend any events about your community? Or do you sit behind your computer in your little private "Anonymous" word and complain about others. First of all it was more then just "bar owners" at both the Public Safety meeting and alderman Coe's meeting who opposed this licence. As a matter of fact there were more day time small businness owners who opposed this then their were bar owners. As far as critizising me for racism hold on there sparky! Anyone who knows me or knows of me will tell you how far from Racist I am. Just ask the customers I've kicked out off my bars over the years for using "colorful language" and disrespect. I have no problem with a new business in on 6th street. I acually welcome it. But I don't think it is nessasary to sell alchol. Do you know how long it took for us to get all the people who were being released out of jail, to stop coming in by use to ask and use the phone. Now they can walk a block and get alchol on the street? I don't think so. I did not get my licence because I am white. I got my licence because one already existed at the location. I also recieved it because I was able to prove I ran a good clean business at my other establishment. If the Chun's open up their business and it does well and is proven to improve life downtown. They have the option to go before the Licensing comittee again and apply. If it's a well run business and they run a tight ship, I might support it the next time.
    JJ McAuliffe

  20. JJ, thanks for your input here. How are the Chuns or anyone else going to prove that they can sell alcohol responsibly unless they are allowed to sell alcohol? And if released prisoners shouldn't be allowed to purchase alcohol at the Chuns, why should you be able to sell it to them? I appreciate your willingness to defend your position here, but IMHO, neither you or any other person should detrimine whether someone else should be allowed to open a business. At the very least, the city should come up with an objective criteria for license approval such as, say, over 21, no criminal history, or whatever. But when it is arbitrary, as it is now, it is unfair to others while also allowing you to protect your business from competitors. It isn't right.

  21. concrete katie4/14/2009 2:10 PM

    Sorry, JJ, I counted at Park 6 so I hold to my statement. Those with liquor licenses were clearly in the majority at that unpleasant meeting. I was unable to attend last night's committee meeting but I can see why maybe the tavern people would skip it.

  22. Boy, I don't miss it down there.

  23. Sorry for not writing more clearly I did not mean to say that Doug or JJ
    are Racist sorry. I DO believe IMHO that the DRC leadership is however and would act accordingly.

  24. JJ it is interesting how when you open your mouth to attempt to explain that you are not o-o-o-o-o racist, you dig a bigger hole. Its kinda like saying my best friend is colored. Just imagine that people might be able to come on to the Sixth Street area and shop without the monitoring of the Tavern League. just give this some thought that without the Tavern League a person might be able to do business without being scrutinized by there competitors. I believe what this city needs is a wake up call and the only thing that seems to get the attention of the city is money. Get your head out of your ---, and let business do business. Wake up Aron, I thought you were better than this.

  25. Love the idea for the new business or hate it, one thing should be clear to all of us: these blog responses are embarrassing. It looks like we Racine residents may need to focus more on the basics, like being able to disagree with one another without resorting to insults and crudeness.

  26. Downtown Brown4/14/2009 9:59 PM

    JJ, Denis and others thanks for your comments here. I have never thought racism was an issue regarding Downtown businesses, and I think the charge is RIDICULOUS!
    But the question remains why not allow as many many licenses as possible? Take them away from those who abuse them or are irresponsible... If 27 companies sell Hats in downtown so be it. Either Racine, WI becomes the world capitol of Hat Sales, or the most successful shop or shop's will survive. Same thing is true with Coffee shops, art galleries, Importer gift shops, and eyeglass stores. Let the best survive.
    We already prevent stores from selling liquor, beer and wine after 9:00 pm (a stupid rule, but I digress, So it wouldn't be like there would be folks sucking on a Jumbo at 6th and Park, anymore than from any other nearby store that sells individual items.
    I have expressed that MY hope would be that the Chun's would go upscale with their products. and continue to develop our Downtown as more and more upscale going forward. If we want to encourage upscale incomes to visit and/ or move to/ invest in our City we need to present an upscale, and lower tax image. (Pay attention Mssr's. Dickert and Turner!).

    Oh BTW I see the US GOVT. has announced the first recall of auto's since President Obama too over General Motors... I hope I don't have to get my Muffler fixed at the DMV..
    LESS Government folks...Not more!!!
    BTW Denis and I are both considering adding Burgers and Beer to our businesses...Mine will be better than his!!! Concrete Katie wanna compete with us?? Roundabout Burgers and Ale I think has a ring to it??

  27. JJ McAuliffe4/15/2009 1:26 AM

    Thank you Dennis. I think you also misunderstood me. We do not sell to the people who just get out of jail. We acually discouge them being in the Pub. I personally do not feel comfortable selling to felons. Again I'm not against business, I'm just leary about the alchol sales. As far as competition, is anyone listening? I don't feel that this is a threat to my business. In my business we have people who look out for our customers. WE CALL SAFERIDE for people who have had to much (many who wander in from other places).
    We stop people who are acting like fools, we cut people off! A liqour store is by no means competition to me and I'm the least bit worried about that. They cannot monitor who they sell to like we do.
    Katie, you are very wrong again. Their were THREE liquor liscence owners at that first meeting.
    Anonymous, you are the epitome of what I say about coward bloggers. You know absolutely nothing and should get a life! First I wont even comment on your "digging a bigger hole comment" It was never even close to being said "some of my best friends are...." That's your cop-out cliche saying, not mine! And as far as the Tavern League is concerned, again you need to get your head out you @#% and do some research. The Tavern League is very pro business. They have nothing to do with this, and I am acually in the minority of our members who are going against this. So give me hell, not the Tavern League!
    As for you Downtown Brown.......
    Thanks for being a sound voice of reason. Your last blog made a hell of a lot of sense and I respect your comments.
    Look people, if you have issues with what I have to say, I would love to sit down with you in person and discuss them. I hate to lower myself into Anonymous land. You know where to find me, and I would love to talk.
    Slainte everyone, can't we all just get along!

  28. I want to open a burger joint downtown but I need Keewpies to go out of business. Can I bring my friends and go before the Politburo with:

    1. Their business is not visually appealing and is a blight on the neighborhood
    2. Their business creates traffic problems (part of the fact that the business is a success but no worries!)
    3. Their parking lot does not have enough green space and they should be closed down
    4. They wash dishes and silverware in there - they use far more water than the bank branches and art stores - therefore they should be immediately slapped with a $100,000 water use fee
    5. My last burger did not meet my specifications for number of onions and amount of ketchup, therefore, the business's owners are shady and haven't proven themselves and should not be doing business in downtown Racine

  29. concrete katie4/15/2009 9:27 AM

    JJ, At the Park 6 meeting there were 2 people who actually live on the street and have businesses(both in favor of the convenience store), there were 3 Sixth Street tavern business owners and 3 people who have a tavern restaurant on the street (total of 6 people), Devin Sutherland (DRC), 5 daytime businesses opposed (one of whom was represented by the same 3 people who own the building with tavern-restaurant), two empty building owners, one who could not believe the nonsense and said so, and another who no longer has a business on the street but is still a BID rep and did not say anything. Thomas Holmes (Park 6) came into his own place during the meeting and stayed out of it having gone through his own horror show trying to open. Last but certainly not least was an uncomfortable Jeff Coe who did do his heroic best to moderate but it was a lost cause. If I have missed anyone, I apologize, but I am usually quite accurate with my pencil. Downtown Brown, the city health department (if there is anyone still there!!) will cite you for your illegal burgers. Call me when you land in jail.

  30. concrete katie4/15/2009 10:16 AM

    Sorry, I failed to mention that Mr. Chun was present. He was calm, cool and polite.

  31. FYI: from the Milwaukee Business Journal 3/13/09 - incorporations - Racine - Caroline Chun, Lakeside Liquor 420 Sixth St Racine 53403 - I have to assume from the name that the intention was to open a liquor store with a few convenience items like cigarettes, beer and maybe soda.

  32. Once again JJ your monoplization of business will not work. I hope no one from the city kills the messenger when the john doe comes down because what this city is involved in is illegal behavior sanctioned by the jj of this city. (as you might noticed small js until you grow up and realize that business is suppose to be positive). Why don't someone sit and talk to the Chuns before everything is denied and our window of opportunity for these people to do business does not exist.I wonder who is next to go to the business slaughter.

  33. concrete katie4/15/2009 10:01 PM

    Pete or Dustin: Does the Common Council vote on this? I checked the City calendar and there is a Common Council next monday and also on Tuesday. Could you let us know because there are people who would like to rap and support the Chuns.

  34. Devin Sutherland (DRC), is IMHO the bigest osbatcal to any good things that might come downtown from the beer tent that few wanted to the way that the Red Shirts pick on kids just in my view being kids.
    Want good things to come to downtown Racine remove Devin Sutherland, of course since the Johnson's like their toy ran just the way it is that will not happen. Expect instead more empty store fronts

  35. concrete katie4/16/2009 4:05 PM

    The Common Council will vote on this matter on Monday. If you care to express an opinion, you get 3 minutes and must sign up prior to the beginning of the meeting (which starts at 7 p.m.)

  36. TaxedTooMuch4/18/2009 10:12 PM

    Here's our city council, once more, trying to legislate morality. It's OK to allow the LGBT to establish a headquarters here and put our youngest most impressoinable citizens (our children) at risk of being lured and seduced into sodomistic sexual lifestyles, but to allow a couple the right to sell perfectly legal fare in their own store is not allright because they (the City Council) don't like it, is the right thing to do. Does the term "restraint of trade" mean anything to you selfrighteous bunch of hippocrites?

    I suppose it is also just as repugnant to them to give the people who live downtown a place to shop for groceries. How about the lady that's been trying for over 3 years to open a Christian coffee shop downtown. Why does the City Council keep making her jump through loop after loop. They won't give her permission to do that either. Now, if she wanted to open a bar, things might be different.

    We need to vote out every sitting incumbant on the Better-Than-Thou Council and get some fresh blood in there.

  37. Your idiot comments about the LGBT center have nothing to do with a store on 6th. Get a clue.

  38. Idiotic comments by bloggers??
    You idiots need to get a life!!!
    The LGBT did something and opened. Good for them, and by the way what the hell does that have to do with anything on this blog anyway? Really?
    They arent selling anything, their there as a support center. You small minded idiots need to.....oh never mind it wont get through to you anyway. I'm not even going to check the next response because it will be some small minded response anyway. Good luck losers!!
    Read a book for gods sake and get a life.