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:
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.