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Seven of the 15 items facing the Administration and Public Works Committee on June 24 concerned liquor licenses. With the remainder of the agenda as mundane as an agreement for utility bill printing and a maintenance plan for Sherman Plaza, and with the Planning and Development Committee lasting only seven minutes, Council Bytes this issue morphs into liquor bytes.
Before getting to the good stuff, however, the Committee breezed through the approval of a nearly $1.6 million contract for water main replacement and street resurfacing. Portions of Clark, Austin and Keeney streets will receive work. There were two bidders, and the low bidder, A. Lamp, came in $270,000 below the engineers’ estimate.
Upgrades to Fireman’s Park passed easily at a cost of $255,400. The project has been in the works for months, but now construction can begin. Northwestern University will contribute $20,000 toward the lighting, prompting Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, to request that staff ask NU for 100 percent of the cost of lighting for future projects because concerns over student safety are an explanation for increased lighting needs.
Then came the liquor matters, some new and some old. Wingstop on Main Street stopped selling alcohol in January and will not renew its Class D license. Siam Splendor on Emerson Street has decided not to renew its Class D either.
Two gone, but one new, as the Kingston Grill in the Dempster-Dodge Shopping Center received a Class D and can now offer Red Stripe, Guinness and Heineken. [Full disclosure: the Law Offices of C. Shawn Jones represents the Kingston Grill.]
Those looking for the Class D experience – a restaurant serving beer and wine only – will now have 21 options in Evanston. Council suspended the rules and passed the Kingston Grill immediately. Class Ds pay $1,800 for their license, regardless of the number of seats in their restaurant.
That was not all, however. A new liquor license classification, P-1, received its first applicant. Temperance Beer Company, the craft brewery business for whom the new classification was created, will be coming soon to 2000 Dempster St. The license allows for the sale of beer for off-site consumption as well as on-site sampling of beer brewed here in Evanston’s first modern craft brewery. A class P-1 also costs $1,800 per year.
Before Temperance Beer even opened, Council upped its production capacity from 465,000 to 930,000 gallons per year with the fifth alcohol item on the agenda. The increase will not become effective unless and until Springfield passes a bill that is currently pending, HB 1573, increasing the capacity allowed under state law.
Next, the Class N license received a tweak allowing for sampling of liquor at Evanston’s grocery stores. Ald. Rainey pointed out that she personally had sampled wine in grocery stores in the past and welcomed a change to the ordinance that made such a practice legal. “Try it before you buy it” now extends to vodka and gin in grocery stores in some situations. There are currently seven Class Ns in Evanston, and they each pay $11,500 per year to maintain that license.
The Committee moved on to the Class T, a newly created classification for brewpubs. Smylie Brothers Restaurant and Brewery, coming soon to Oak Street across from the post office, asked for and received permission to offer samples of beer brewed on the premises. Brewpubs pay $7,500 a year for their license. The new Peckish project on Howard Street is slated to be the second Evanston brewpub when it opens.
All Committee items passed on the Consent Agenda except the proposed new Pritzker-owned bed and breakfast. That item was held at the request of Alderman Melissa Wynne, who missed the meeting to attend a conference. The matter returns to Council July 8.