Mixing drinking, painting hard to swallow

Request delayed by panel until August

June 6, 2012

Painting while sipping wine or beer outdoors is going to have to wait until at least August for patrons of one Village business.

A request by painting studio Arte, 7511 Harwood Ave., to put seating outside its storefront has been put on hold for 60 days, because a city committee questioned the business's plans for future operations.

The business started as a place for people to participate in group painting lessons. Customers could order a drink in keeping with the social experience. Now owner Karen Salituro is asking for outdoor seating, and talking about adding a restaurant component at some point.

"We have a pretty unformed proposal," Alderman Dennis McBride said. "In the future, we might want to do this, in the future me might want to do that."

With proposed outdoor seating for 32 and operating hours that extend beyond sundown, members the Community Development Committee last week saw the drinking portion of the business becoming more significant.

"People won't be painting at night - to me that's a bar," said Alderman Jeff Roznowski, committee chairman.

Arte still needs to get a license to sell alcoholic beverages outdoors. By acquiring a Class B liquor license, it could operate as a tavern.

"Then what? We'd have a bar with some painting going on," McBride said.

The proximity of a bar so close to Yo Mama! yogurt shop, where kids congregate, made Alderman Bobby Pantuso uneasy. He also voiced discomfort with wine bar Ruby Tap going in on the other side of Yo Mama!

"I'm just not seeing this," Pantuso said.

Salituro said she planned to put out planter boxes to mark the borders of Arte's seating area, similar to what has been done at Café Hollander. The number of seats may seem high, but unlike a traditional restaurant or bar, there will be less turnover as people take their time painting, she added.

"My vision in redeveloping the Drew's building is to bring people into that park," Salituro said referring to Root Common, the green space between Wauwatosa and Harwood avenues.

The committee asked Salituro to come back July 31 with details of where she sees the business going in the future.

"It's not that we're opposed to the idea, there's just too many question marks," McBride said.

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