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Mayor and local Liquor Commissioner Elizabeth Tisdahl is recommending that City Council adopt an amendment to Ordinance 55-O-10 that would create a new one-day liquor license to allow sales of alcoholic beverages at private events held on non-City owned property. The amendment was approved by the Liquor Control Review Board by a vote of 5-0, and is now under discussion by the Administration and Public Works Committee.

Currently, a one-day alcoholic beverage license is available, allowing beer and wine, but not liquor, to be served or sold at an event on non-City-owned property. A separate ordinance allows a one-day license for the sale of beer, wine and liquor at events held on City-owned property. Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar recommended that Council allow a similar license for events held on property not owned by the City.

Consideration of the amended license arose from a request made by Foodstuffs, a gourmet food and catering business with a storefront on Central Street, which hopes to cater a fundraising event for the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem and would like to serve and sell alcoholic liquor at the event. Beyond what was presented to the Liquor Control Review Board, Foodstuffs management declined to comment when contacted.

Some Administration and Public Works committee members raised concern over whether or not the newly revised ordinance would encourage underage drinking.

“The Committee felt that this one-day ordinance was one that would open the door for entities other than [Foodstuffs] to pursue expansion of the use of this license in a way that might be difficult to regulate,” said Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward. “In particular, there were questions about whether or not frat houses’ private parties might take advantage of this to sell liquor.”

However, Mayor Tisdahl emphasized that as local liquor commissioner, she would have the ability to deny license applications, something that City Attorney Grant Farrar confirmed. “If I have any discretion as the liquor commissioner to refuse one-day licenses, I would be turning down frat houses, etc.,” she said. “The amendment would benefit the NorthShore University HealthSystem. It is a one-day, once-a-year event,” Mayor Tisdahl added.

At present, the one-day liquor license permits the sale of alcohol between 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. No more than 12 one-day licenses can be issued to any sales address or applicant during a calendar year. If the amended ordinance were to pass, these criteria would not change.  

The matter is being held in the Administration and Public Works Committee pending further discussion.