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Once again, liquor-related items made up the bulk of City Council’s agenda on Oct. 27. It has become a recurring theme this year.
Aside from the Central Street CVS and a discussion of the 6% sales tax on liquor (see other stories on this page), Council took up three other liquor license issues. First, Council voted to introduce a liquor license for the new Bangers and Lace restaurant slated to open at 810 Grove St., the site formerly occupied by The Keg.
The matter created brief controversy when Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said, “We don’t need it to go to 3 a.m.” A Class C-1 can exist only in the downtown core area and, according to the ordinance, permits the sale of alcohol until 2 a.m. weekdays and 3 a.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and some holidays. Restaurants in other parts of the City must stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m..
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, asked where the other C-1 licenses were located.
“Why, in case you need to head out late?” joked Ald. Rainey.
“Fundamental fairness,” answered Ald. Holmes. If the other licenses are direct competitors, it would not be fair to force Bangers and Lace to close earlier.
Corporation Council Grant Farrar retrieved the information, and rattled off the six C-1 licenses in Evanston. All are within two blocks of the new Bangers and Lace and include Bar Louie, Prairie Moon, Tommy Nevins, TJ’s, La Macchina, Buffalo Wild Wings and Cheesey’s.
“I give up,” said Ald. Rainey. The license was introduced, without amendment, unanimously.
Nick Podesta of Bangers and Lace, said, “The elephant in the room is, this is not The Keg.” Bangers and Lace has an existing location on Division Street near Milwaukee in Chicago. The new restaurant will be family-friendly and a good neighbor, he said.
In an Evanston first, a gas station will be selling beer soon. The Shell station on Oakton near McCormick received a City liquor license, and Council suspended the rules to make the ordinance effective after just one meeting. “It seems like we’re all about liquor tonight,” said Ald. Rainey. She asked for suspension of the rules so that “maybe we can get them up and running by Thanksgiving. I doubt it. Christmas. New Year’s Eve.” A state license must be obtained after the City license.
The agenda was not all liquor. Council approved a consulting contract to study the potential creation of a Special Service Area for the Main/Chicago and Dempster/Chicago merchant districts.
Under Illinois law, “Property owners within the SSA pay an additional fee through property tax billing for services above and beyond the level of service provided by the municipality. Typical examples include marketing, events, seasonal decorations, sidewalk snow removal, signage, streetscape, and landscaping.” Any SSA would be limited, as much as possible, to the commercial property and not include residential buildings, according to the staff memo.
The consultant’s study will examine feasibility of an SSA at the proposed location and proposed boundaries, rules, and a budget detailing what would be paid for out of SSA funds. The study will cost just under $40,000.
Bikes were back this time, as well, with the proposed bike path through Mason Park and connecting with Evanston Township High School’s bike corral introduced. “This is a critical corridor,” said Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward. Skokie is expanding bike lanes as well, and Evanston should connect up as much as possible.
The loss of parking spaces remains a concern, however. A meeting to discuss, among other things, the parking impact will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the Erie Community Health Center at 1285 Hartrey Ave.