Amid Community Concerns, Committee Rejects License Renewal for North Side Club

Mar 7, 2018

During a committee meeting at Milwaukee's City Hall Tuesday, residents and citizen groups said the city does not need another strip club.

James Harrison, owner and operator of Tatou Ultra Pub on the city’s north side, and his attorneys attended the meeting in hopes of renewing the license for his pub’s operations, but residents were upset with the plan.

Neighbors got word that a strip club chain was planning to come to Milwaukee, and would set up shop in the bar. They had noticed a sign in the pub’s window, and videos on social media, suggesting that Harrison was going into business with V Live – a popular strip club chain in the south.

Harrison’s attorney, David Halbrooks, says that connection no longer is a concern. because Harrison ended his association with V Live. “Yes, this marketing idea was a mistake. It has been successfully ended. All of that has been cast aside and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t,”he said.

Yet a number of people opposed to V Live coming to Milwaukee showed up at the committee meeting -- and still wanted to talk about their concerns.

Those opposed to the plan argued a strip club could heighten sex trafficking and prostitution in the city.

Representatives of Southeastern Wisconsin’s Common Ground said they fear the strip club chain could open elsewhere in the city. They also petitioned for the committee not to renew Tatou’s license, saying the pub is a nuisance in the neighborhood near 35th and Capitol.

Rotiesha Nelson, a member of Common Ground, said, "V Live may be off the table for this location, but V Live still plans to come to Milwaukee. Our neighborhood right now is too vulnerable. There’s too much going on right now; we’re weak. A club does not bring nothing beneficial to that neighborhood.”

Other community members also spoke to the environment surrounding Tatou. They said the pub brings excessive traffic and accidents to the area. Neighbors added that there are multiple car break-ins on nights the club is open, and there’s always trash on the street when Tatou closes for the night.

However, Chris Terry, along with several others, supported Harrison keeping his business.

Terry said there’s always been some sort of club in the neighborhood and neighbors are unfairly blaming Harrison for the actions of others -- who should be held accountable for what they do.

“All I’m saying is since it’s been Tatou, it has not been as bad as it’s been from some previous clubs that have been there and I grew up in this neighborhood,” he added.

After hearing from the community, the committee voted to reject Harrison’s license renewal, despite the fact that the owner severed connections with the V Live strip club chain.

Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the area, said he couldn’t approve Harrison’s license after hearing the community’s concerns.