More restaurants, no new bars downtown, vows Reilly
Loop North News

BRENDAN REILLY

Epic (Left) The rooftop at Epic, a bar/restaurant on West Hubbard Street that was issued downtown Chicago’s last tavern license of 2014. Since then, in the 42nd Ward at least, there have been no new tavern licenses.

More restaurants, no new bars downtown, vows Reilly

2-Apr-15 – For restaurants opening in downtown Chicago, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly is the maitre d’ showing them to their business license. For bars, he is the bouncer, showing them to the curb.

Since January 1, 2012, 453 retail food establishment licenses were issued in the 42nd Ward. During that time, only 12 tavern licenses were issued and Reilly arguably thinks that is 12 too many.

“I haven’t approved a tavern liquor license or given a letter of support for one for several years,” he said on Tuesday. “We want to see restaurant licenses issued. They do provide good, well-paying jobs and they provide a benefit and amenity for the neighbors. What we don’t need are more taverns that cater to the suburban 20-year-olds that use our neighborhood like a toilet bowl.”

2012201320142015
Restaurants 153 122 139 39
Taverns 4 5 3 0
(Left) New business licenses issued by Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection for restaurants and taverns in the 42nd Ward.

In River North alone, Reilly says there are “several” establishments with liquor licenses that take up too much of Chicago Police Department’s time. One in particular, Nouveau Tavern on West Ontario Street, is in the alderman’s crosshairs for its alleged fights, illegal handguns, assault on a police officer, and underage customers. Reilly, whose Constituent Services Office is located two blocks away, has been applying pressure on the tavern since last October, when it was a subject of his weekly newsletter.

“We’re doing things to try and mitigate a drag on police resource,” he said at a neighborhood meeting on Tuesday co-hosted by River North Residents Association. “The liquor licenses we have in River North, there are several which eat up a lot of resource. Some of those are west of Orleans [Street]. There’s one in particular, I’m not going to name by name, we’re going to have in court next month, we’re trying to revoke their liquor license.”

Nouveau Tavern was sued last year by the owner of the building in which it is located. Ontario West LLC filed a lawsuit on July 15, 2014, seeking $25,234. A judgment was entered against DJJ Entertainment Inc., owner of Nouveau Tavern, on January 5, 2015, but the case has been appealed.

The run-in with the tavern has apparently inspired extra scrutiny of new liquor license applications. So far this year, there have been no new tavern licenses issued downtown.

“There have been times when we have objected to liquor licenses because the business plan was not compatible with the neighborhood and we could forecast a lot of problems and drain on police resource,” said Reilly (right). Brendan Reilly

As for Late Hour Licenses, allowing a bar to remain open until 4 a.m., there hasn’t been one of those for at least eight years. Reilly says when he was elected in 2007, he was asked to lift a moratorium on Late Hour Licenses but it “was one of the few issues that my predecessor and I agreed on, we don’t need more 4 a.m. bars in River North.”

Says Reilly, “I live above a couple of them and I can tell you it’s not a lot of fun.”

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

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