At their Oct. 22, City Council members took back one liquor license due to closure but granted four new ones. Three of the four went to new restaurants going in to spaces that held now-closed restaurants. In all cases, City Staff asked Council to suspend the rules that require two readings of an ordinance for passage and immediately grant the license. Council agreed in all but one case.
The rule requiring two reading allows the community an opportunity to examine an application over the two weeks between introduction and passage, said Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, agreed, adding that she found it particularly troubling that all the information required to grant a license was not available in time for Council to review it thoroughly.
One license, for Wine Goddess wine shop and tasting room at 702 Main St., was introduced but the rules were not suspended because proof of a surety bond and state-mandated alcohol server’s training (BASSET) did not arrive at City Hall until 5:30 Monday evening.
Ald. Rainey called the tardy paperwork unacceptable, and insisted on physically examining it before voting. She made a reference to the Rules Committee concerning incomplete applications and suspension of the rules.
“Paperwork that is essential to a liquor license is scattered throughout the City,” she said. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz defended his staff, saying paperwork is not scattered but right where it should be. It just did not make it into the Council packet in some instances.
Ald. Rainey, in the end, voted to suspend the rules for Wine Goddess; but Ald. Fiske did not. A vote to suspend the rules must be unanimous, so the application must wait until the next meeting, Nov. 5.
Three other licenses were granted immediately. Moving in to the former Carmen’s space on Church Street west of the tracks will be 27 Live, a restaurant and bar that will feature live music on the weekends. Carmen’s has since reopened on Chicago Avenue near Dempster Street.The venue will be operated by the same team that runs the Old Neighborhood Grill on Central Street.
Cheesie’s Pub and Grill, featuring grilled cheese sandwiches of all shape, size and flavor, has taken over the space occupied by Austin’s Tacos and will soon be adding adult beverages to the menu. Evanston is the second location for Cheesie’s, the other being on the 900 block of Belmont in Chicago. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said her grandchildren approved of the new restaurant, though they would not be taking advantage of the liquor license.
JT’s Bar and Grill has opened on Orrington Avenue in the space occupied by long closed Omaggio. JT’s advertises “breakfast all day” along with sandwiches and burgers, and by publication time will have added bloody marys and other adult beverages to the menu.
Omaggio closed in 2008. Carmen’s closed in late 2011. Austin’s Tacos lasted only a few months earlier this year.
The news was not all rosy Monday night, as Council also pulled back a beer and wine only license due to the closure of Mecafresh on Oak Avenue. Prana Café has already opened in the former Mecafresh Space in the Enterprise Building, but has not yet sought a liquor license.