Monthly Archives: June 2018

A new proposal for the Rehab

I would like to update the campus and the community on a new development in the situation involving the Rehab bar in downtown Menomonie. Today the Leader-Telegram reported that the owner of the Rehab has proposed transferring his liquor license to an Eau Claire entity that operates bars there. That story can be found here.  Here is my full statement that was sent to the newspaper in response to a request for comment:

“We were pleased when the Menomonie City Council on June 11, voted not to renew the liquor license for the Rehab tavern in downtown Menomonie. That action by the City Council sent a strong signal to the community that it wanted a new direction for its downtown – one that was not centered on encouraging high risk drinking among young people. Therefore, we are concerned with the current proposal to transfer the Rehab’s license to an Eau Claire group that is associated with establishments there that target college students with drink specials. We fear this transfer could perpetuate the current high-risk drinking culture that exists at the Rehab. We believe a better option would be denying this transfer to allow the council to carefully consider all applicants’ business plans – including responsible beverage services — that may be a better fit for the new direction we hope to see in downtown Menomonie.”

This is an incredibly important issue for the campus and for the community. We will keep the campus updated as needed.

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City Council’s nonrenewal of bar’s license was community effort, big step forward

The Menomonie City Council and Mayor Randy Knaack issued a strong statement Monday night about the need to address high-risk drinking behaviors by voting unanimously not to renew the license for the Rehab bar on Broadway Street. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram story on the meeting is available here.

I attended the four-hour hearing the council held on the nonrenewal and witnessed the high degree of emotions that hovered over this issue. I want to personally thank the mayor and each council member who devoted so much time to this issue and for taking a strong stand in favor of responsible alcohol service downtown.

Others who worked so hard on this issue deserve thanks as well, including members of the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Drugs; Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson and the entire department; UW-Stout Police Chief Jason Spetz and his department; our Dean of Students office; and members of Menomonie Cares. This issue required a united community effort, and Menomonie responded.

I also want to also thank the other bars, restaurants and businesses in downtown Menomonie and across the city that stepped up to lend their support to this nonrenewal. Their backing was very important to this successful outcome. In addition, I want to emphasize that I’m grateful to the majority of tavern owners who operate responsibly and exemplify sound and ethical business practices.

Looking forward, I hope that this action means we’re entering a new era in this community that has at its core the desire to nurture our young people. The Rehab owner had the temerity to tell the council Monday night that he placed “people over profits.” The facts of this case spoke otherwise. We now have a real chance to move forward from this situation and work together to address the scourge of high-risk alcohol use and its many consequences.

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Letter to Menomonie City Council

I recently sent the following letter to Menomonie City Council members, Mayor Randy Knaack and City Administrator Lowell Prange regarding Rehab tavern in downtown Menomonie. The council will meet in special session at 6 p.m. Monday, June 11, to consider the nonrenewal of Rehab’s licenses. I plan to be at the meeting, at the Dunn County Government Center, 800 Wilson Ave., and I urge you to attend as well:

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I am writing to emphasize how important it is, with regard to our efforts to address high-risk drinking among UW-Stout students, that the Menomonie City Council denies the pending license renewal requests filed by the Rehab tavern.

I understand that this is not a decision the council can take lightly: a denial will have financial implications for the owner of the establishment. However, this owner has shown a brazen disregard for any semblance of the duty he has to serve alcohol according to state and local laws, as well as to operate his establishment as a responsible business owner and member of the community.

Most of the attention concerning the Rehab has been focused on the night of April 12, 2018, when city, university and county officers issued more than 50 citations to people who were under age and drinking in the bar. I have referred to this incident as “revolting,” and it truly was. However, also revolting are Rehab’s constant attempts to encourage high-risk drinking just to increase the bar’s bottom line.

Consider, for example, the 10th annual Intervention Fest the bar hosted Saturday, April 21, just two weeks shy of graduation. This event began at 10 a.m., according to the bar’s Facebook page, and was intended to encourage all patrons “to get wet, wild and wrecked with us all day.” The bar also posted photos of patrons who started lining up at 9 a.m. for what it called its “biggest party ever.”

Additionally, to encourage UW-Stout students to drink to excess the night before our advisement day, the bar posted on its Facebook page that it was offering a $10 “all you can drink” special. One student responded that it was his “favorite holiday from school.” Yes, because of this we are exploring alternatives to advisement day.

Finally, the Rehab is well known for its “Thirsty Thursday” specials that include “drink for free.” Unconscionable specials like these put pressure on other responsible owners and promote a race to the bottom.

As I have stated publicly, UW-Stout knows it has a problem with too many of its students engaging in high-risk drinking activities. We have an aggressive plan, sponsored by our Dean of Students office and managed by the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, to address this serious issue.

But we can’t do it ourselves. We need our community partners to join with us in this effort to effect a change that will help improve the quality of life in Menomonie, making the city safer and more attractive to new residents and new students.

Please make a strong statement that you are willing to be part of the solution by not renewing these liquor licenses.

Sincerely,

Bob Meyer

Chancellor