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Proposed Thiensville beer garden advances with single bid

Village staff will discuss concerns before next meeting

Feb. 18, 2014

Thiensville — A revival of Milwaukee's old-time, park-based beer gardens along the Milwaukee River inches forward in the village of Thiensville. Laura Adair, owner of Laura's Donges Bay Clubhouse in Mequon, submitted the sole Request for Proposal at Monday's Village Board meeting.

The one-year, 16-page proposal detailed how she would run the Thiensville beer garden. The hours of operation would be on a seven-day-a-week schedule from noon until dusk. It would run from mid-June until early fall, possibly coinciding with Thiensville's farmers market season, which ends in October.

Adair stated Community Concessions would provide hot food items, snacks, ice cream, wine, soda and beer. The company remains in discussions with Sprecher Brewery Company to serve the local brew. However, Community Concessions is not committed to serving products from any single vendor.

According to her proposal, a family-friendly atmosphere would be maintained by supplying lawn games and tabletop games such as checkers, dominoes and chess. An ATM machine would be provided by Community Concessions at no cost or liability to Thiensville. Adair also offered the village 22 percent of the gross revenue, which was an increase from Sprecher's proposed 15 percent from its potential sales. Gross revenue is defined as "all sales of all food and beverage or other merchandise, less sales tax."

Adair asked the board to accept her ability to adjust the proposed percentage to 20 percent, if they are forced to close for Family Fun Before the Fourth and/or Lions Fest which are held in Village Park. At its Dec. 16 meeting, the board stipulated that the beer garden shoud not compete with local festivals.

Sprecher does not bid

Prior to this Monday's meeting, Trustee David Lange informed Sprecher of the RFP process and directed Sprecher Brewery Company President Jeff Hamilton to the Thiensville's Website to fill out a formal proposal.

There was "no response from Sprecher," Lange said.

Board President Van Mobley recommended the trustees examine Adair's proposal until the next Committee of the Whole meeting on March 3. The proposal will likely be discussed at length during that meeting.

Trustee John Treffert encouraged evaluation sessions with high-level Thiensville employees to discuss beer garden thoughts and concerns such as park maintenance and public safety, before the Committee of the Whole meets.

Concerns over parking

Not everyone is pleased with the proposed Thiensville beer garden.

"We have concerns with (it) conflicting with other events like Little League baseball games and bringing children to the park....Seven days is the biggest flag," said Jim Heyer, a longtime resident of Thiensville. "Parking is an issue when the market is there on Tuesdays. It's a concern when bringing kids or grandkids to the park with other events occurring."

Other residents think the proposed beer garden is a positive addition for Thiensville.

"Tom (her husband) and I are a little bit excited," said Angie Diehl, a Thiensville resident who lives near the park on Green Bay Road. "We are cautiously optimistic about it. I know there is drinking at the ballpark every night. We don't think there would be too much change."

Lange admitted safety at the park would be "the unknown."

"Having the police building nearby is comforting," he said. "At Estabrook (in Shorewood) safety has not been a problem....It's a professional operation."

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