The Leia’s Lunchbox food cart will not be able to cater to customers in the Langdon Street area after the Madison City Council voted to revoke its late-night vending license Tuesday.
The revocation follows an incident in October that involved an employee of the food cart, which operates on North Frances Street, just off Langon Street near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, drawing a gun and pointing it at someone causing a disturbance in line.
License holder Leia Boers said the lack of late-night sales will be detrimental to her food cart business, which offers burgers, chicken sandwiches and fried cheese curds.
“I am disappointed in the decision to revoke the late night license. Without late-night sales, this is the end of my business,” Boers said. “It's hard to believe that the city would destroy a business because of a rogue employee's actions.”
Boers also holds licenses to operate during the day and on the State Street mall concourse, which are not affected by the decision. However, Boers said she will not make enough money to continue operating without catering to the nighttime crowds.
The Vending Oversight Committee recommended revoking the license because of the "seriousness and dangerousness" of the incident on Oct. 8. The VOC held a quasi-judicial hearing Nov. 29 and decided a one-year penalty would be appropriate because of charges related to the incident.
Early Oct. 8, at about 1:45 a.m., Madison police reported that two men were creating a disturbance while waiting in line to buy food from Leia’s Lunchbox, set up on the 500 block of North Frances Street.
Ellis Slaughter, who was working at the food cart, attempted to diffuse the situation, which instead escalated. Slaughter retrieved a “sub compact assault-style rifle,” according to the incident report, and pointed it at one of the men.
The weapon has not been recovered as of Nov. 29, Lt. Brian Austin said during his testimony to the VOC. However, other gun-related items such as a gun case, ammunition and a receipt for a 22-caliber firearm were found during a search of the residence shared by Slaughter and Boers.
Slaughter faces second-degree recklessly endangering safety and disorderly conduct, and Boers received a citation from the city for obstructing a police officer.
“We apologize for the behavior of one of our employees this weekend,” a post on the food cart’s Facebook page read following the incident. “He is no longer with our company.”
Street Vending Coordinator Meghan Blake-Horst said carts that vend during late night hours, between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., inherently face more challenges on heavy drinking nights.
“Safety for someone at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. is very different than at 10 a.m.,” Blake-Horst said.