[UPDATE] The Good Wives Granted Eau Claire’s Only Available Liquor License
Good Wives, Silly Serrano, Country Jam sought license from City Council
Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth, Branden Nall |
[UPDATE 3/1/23] The Eau Claire City Council voted Tuesday to grant the city’s only available Combination Class B liquor license to The Good Wives, 2161 Eastridge Center.
The Good Wives, which focuses on locally sourced dishes, had sought the license so it could add craft cocktails to its menu. The other applicants for the Class B license were Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant and Country Jam USA, which is creating new festival grounds within the city limits.
After the decision, Country Jam announced that it would apply for a more costly reserve license for the two new special event facilities it is building. The reserve licenses cost $11,600 for the first year, while a regular Class B license carries a $600 fee.
[ORIGINAL STORY] The Eau Claire City Council will decide Tuesday which of three Eau Claire establishments will receive the coveted liquor license surrendered last month by The Metro, which closed in 2020 and missed a recent deadline to reopen.
The Combination Class B liquor license – which would allow the holder to serve hard liquor in addition to beer and wine – is one of only 82 such licenses allowed in the City of Eau Claire under state law.
Three businesses – The Good Wives, Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant, and the Country Jam Event Center – applied to the city’s License Review Committee, which forwarded the applications to the City Council for its decision on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
The first two establishments already have licenses to serve beer and wine, while the third has yet to open: It’s being built as part of Country Jam’s relocation to new festival grounds on the far northwest outskirts of the city.
In their applications to the city, all three businesses outlined their arguments for receiving the license.
Emily Rieck and and Ella Wesenberg opened The Good Wives (2161 Eastridge Center) late last year. The eatery’s frequently changing menu features sustainably sourced dishes paired with wine, and the applicants wrote that the growth of their business would be helped by the addition of a “small, well-curated cocktail program.” They continued: “Our customers oftentimes will inquire about cocktails or stop by other higher end cocktail venues for drinks before their dinner reservations at The Good Wives.”
Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant opened four years ago on Riverfront Terrace near Phoenix Park and last year relocated to 2006 Cameron St. Owner Sheila Arredondo wrote in her application that receiving the expanded liquor license would allow the restaurant to extend its hours to 9pm and to serve authentic Margaritas, enabling it to compete with other Mexican restaurants in Eau Claire. “Our biggest customer complaint is our minimal hours and lack of a Margarita,” the application stated.
The final applicant is Country Beverages LLC, which is building two event center buildings and outdoor event venues on the new 160-acre Country Jam grounds along Highway T in Chippewa County. Facilities on the grounds will be used for concerts as well as weddings, conferences, trade shows, and corporate events, the application states. The liquor license would be applied to two facilities: The Crescent, a wood-frame structure with 37,000 square feet with a full bar and a commercial kitchen; and High Country, a steel-frame structure of 18,000 square feet and a full bar.
While only one applicant will receive the Combination Class B license, the other two may apply for what is known as reserve licenses, said Jenessa Stromberger, an assistant city attorney. Those licenses cost $11,600 for the first year, making them prohibitively costly for some small businesses.
The license is available because the owners of The Metro, a music and event venue at 210 E. Lake St., didn’t open by a Jan. 3 deadline set by the city. The Metro has closed following a February 2020 fire and never reopened following the height of the pandemic, which shuttered many venues. Owner Bennie Haas – who also owns The Plus in downtown Eau Claire – had vowed to reopen, but didn’t reach the deadline.