Selman Alimi may move forward with his plan to turn the former Ballpark Sports Bar into All Stars Bar & Grill after the Waupaca Common Council approved his request for a liquor license.
The council approved his request for the Reserve Class B liquor license by a vote of 5-3 during its Jan. 21 meeting.
Voting in favor of Alimi’s request were Alan Kjelland, Eric Olson, Jillian Petersen, Scott Purchatzke and Dave Shambeau.
Deb Fenske, Steve Hackett and Paul Hagen voted against it.
Paul Mayou abstained because he is the co-owner of another bar and restaurant in the city. John Lockwood was absent.
Alimi, the owner of the Rose Garden Restaurant in Waupaca, has made an offer to purchase the former Ballpark Sports Bar, which is located at 1608 Townsend Road.
City Administrator Henry Veleker explained to the council that the Reserve Class B liquor license was created by legislation in the late 1990s.
It allows municipalities the ability to issue these licenses beyond their established quotas for liquor licenses.
The legislation created a formula to calculate how many of the licenses a municipality could issue.
“Through the calculation, we got one Reserve Class B license we could issue. It was issued to the Ballpark in 2001,” he said.
Veleker told the council the Reserve license belongs to that property and cannot be moved.
While the fee for all other Class B liquor licenses in the city is $500, the fee for the Reserve Class B license is $10,000.
Some municipalities in the state believed the higher $10,000 fee was unfair, Veleker told the council.
The city of Madison created a way to give part of the money back ($9,500 of the $10,000) to the person applying for the Reserve Class B license to reinvest back into the business, he said.
The city of Waupaca followed that example, and Alimi submitted an application to the city for approval of a $9,500 economic development grant.
The city’s ordinance requires that the applicant pay the $10,000 license fee to the city before applying for the grant.
As a result, the Common Council tabled action on Alimi’s request for the grant.
The ordinance also requires that the proposed improvements be made and paid for before the city releases the grant.
Alimi plans to install a complete kitchen in the business and estimates the cost to be between $15,000 and $25,000. Remodeling of the bar is estimated between $5,000 and $10,000, and remodeling of the building’s interior is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
Veleker also told the council a background check showed Alimi had several citations in the past.
They were all in Waushara County in 2009 for a restaurant in Wautoma and included operating without a permit – failure to pay a license fee, failure to keep food in temperature control for the third time in a year, and failure to datemark ready to eat food for the third time in a year.
None of the citations were alcohol or drug related, Veleker said.
When Alimi applied for an agent’s license, he indicated he had no convictions of any kind, Police Chief Tim Goke noted in a Jan. 9 memo to the council.
“I think he was looking at the question more like serious convictions versus violations at a restaurant. It was more of a misunderstanding than trying to hide something or mislead. He knew the chief would do a background check,” Steve Huhta told the council.
Huhta is the Realtor representing both Alimi and First National Bank, which foreclosed on the former Ballpark property.
Huhta said the financing is running through First National Bank, and “as far as I know, it’s going to be approved.”
He said those who have been inside of the Rose Garden Restaurant will see Alimi did a “great remodeling job and is serving great food.”
Alimi plans to invest a considerable amount of money into the project in the old Ballpark, Huhta said.
He also told the council Alimi has had a successful restaurant in Plover for 20 years. He is well respected and has had no problems there, Huhta said.
Fenske said if he did not understand the application for the Reserve Class B liquor license, he should have asked questions.
In a Jan. 21 memo to the council, Veleker said he reached out to Waupaca County Sanitarian Jed Wohlt to find out if there have been any problems at the Rose Garden Restaurant.
“He stated he has not,” Veleker said of Wohlt’s replay. “He (Wohlt) has performed two inspections with no significant findings. Mr. Wohlt did offer that he was impressed with the quality of the upgrade to the restaurant once Mr. Alimi became involved.”