In January, Kim Bartmann, owner of Bryant Lake Bowl (BLB), 810 W. Lake St., applied to the city for a full liquor license and a sidewalk caf license.
Fast-forward five months to May. Bartmann is still waiting on both applications, which are being bounced around among city committees.
At the April 29 City Council meeting, BLB's license applications were presented for approval, but the Chair of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, City Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward), requested they be returned to committee.
He said the move was necessary because city staff had made an error in giving proper community notice of the public hearing. The community was told about the sidewalk caf application but not the liquor license application.
Bartmann said the staff made an innocent mistake and has been very nice. However, she said that Niziolek has increased her application frustrations.
She said Niziolek had halted her application while working to retool the sidewalk caf requirements, to mandate 6 feet of sidewalk clearance. The rule changes have been eight months in the making. Bartmann said she meets the current requirements, yet she is still being forced to wait.
"I think it's very unfair that Mr. Niziolek is delaying approval of my sidewalk applications that comply with current regulations," she said, adding that other wards' businesses aren't delayed. "I'm losing business because of this."
Niziolek said the city's sidewalk-clearance policy has been 6 feet, but city staff has been confusion about whether that's for a whole block or on a property-by-property basis. "It's difficult for [the blind] to navigate the slalom course of the sidewalk [cafs]," Niziolek said.
He said he'd introduce a new policy to the City Council soon, adding that a policy is necessary now because the smoking ban has increased the number of sidewalk caf applications.
While she waits, Bartmann said she's trying to make other business improvements, including a new menu.