Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Broadway Tavern Liquor License [Finally] Denied

It's official -- the liquor license for the Broadway Tavern proposed for 4001 N Broadway has been denied.  But it took nearly a year in limbo for that to happen.

Uptown Update first posted in November 2012 that neighbors of the site had received notice that a liquor license was being sought for Broadway Tavern, Inc.  A little online research revealed that the proposed licensee was a member of the Menetti family who was named on the foreclosure action for Lawrence House and other family-owned properties.

In December 2012, Ald. Cappleman held a meeting with neighbors about the proposed liquor license, which they overwhelmingly opposed.  Ald. Cappleman wrote to the Liquor Commissioner that same month, citing community disapproval and asking that the license be denied.

It was, with the Liquor Commissioner saying, among other things, "that the issuance of this tavern license would have a deleterious impact on the health, safety and welfare of the surrounding community."  The Commission asked Broadway Tavern, Inc. to file a plan demonstrating how it would alleviate "parking problems, safety concerns for pedestrians, noise, public intoxication, and unruly behavior for patrons of the establishment."

In May 2013, Buena Park Neighbors sent out a letter to residents to let them know that Broadway Tavern, Inc. had appealed the denial.  Rep. Greg Harris sent a letter of opposition, joining Ald. Cappleman.  In court that day, many community members showed up, but the attorney for Broadway Tavern said his clients weren't ready because they hadn't been properly notified.  Another court date was set.

Later that summer, the liquor license application disappeared from the door of 4001 N Broadway, and we thought the matter was settled.  But we recently became aware that it actually wasn't, not until November 19th, 2013 -- nearly a year after the first post we ran about the liquor license application.

When the appeal was denied again, it was not because of the Menettis' mismanagement of their other 46th Ward properties.  It was not because of the family's track record with Green Dolphin Street.  It was denied based on the lack of a plan to avoid problems associated with a tavern at that location, and surprisingly, it cited problems with another tavern, located just north of Irving Park on Broadway, which had closed eight years earlier.  We can't think of what that could be; anyone with a longer memory than ours?

The ruling, from last November, concludes:
"The issue of whether there is already noise, crime, and vehicular congestion was not addressed by the applicant in his testimony. He did speak of steps to alleviate problems but did not dispute the problems exist. Much of his testimony dealt with his plans for an upscale restaurant but this application is for a tavern license and the lease is for a tavern with carryout and delivery.
On this theory, the City did prove the issuance of this tavern license would cause a deleterious impact on the health, welfare and safety of the surrounding community. ... The denial of the tavern license is affirmed."
While another appeal was available to Broadway Tavern, Inc., the fact that the currency exchange currently located at the SE corner of Broadway and Irving Park will be moving into the space at 4001 Broadway makes us think the issue of the liquor license is finally dead.  Took long enough, but community opinion held.  Well done.


  1. The Chicago Liquor Commission does very good background checks. Liquor is the gateway to drugs and a large amount of "quality of life" crimes. Kudos to the officer writing a ANOV ticket for the drinker on Magnolia the other day.

  2. Just out of curiosity, if it were another person applying to open up a tavern would BPN be against it? I'm trying to suss out whether it was the Menetti family or the idea of a bar in general that they were against.

  3. That's impossible to answer, since there wasn't another person who tried. I think a better question would be, would the vote have been different if the owner had addressed the concerns of the community? For example, filing a plan addressing the issues presented by the community that satisfied the Liquor Commission and the community. Or showing up and making a case at a community meeting about whether or not to approve the liquor license. Or showing up to court instead of saying he wasn't given proper notice (but sending a lawyer in his place). Certainly the Menettis' reputation with other 46th Ward properties and another bar didn't help, but the applicant made no attempts to address the neighbors' concerns.

  4. Let's use a Maryville analogy. First developer had a bad reputation with earlier projects and approached the community in a less than open manner. Development rejected.

    Second developer has a strong reputation for building decent stuff and approached the community in an open manner. Much less opposition and the opposition that is there is largely based on it not being 100 percent low income subsidized housing. Don't fool yourselves. If it were a different version of Wilson Yard many of the opponents would be singing about how wonderful it was. Their arguments about private parks or sunlight or traffic would go "poof" like a fart in a hurricane.

    I suspect a different prospective liquor licensee would have gotten a different reaction from the community. Let's say Michael's Pizza Joint or the Bar on Buena wanted to open up another bar.

  5. Some time ago, Michael's did look into opening another restaurant nearby - I think they were gauging community interested before proceeding with all liquor license/zoning/ordinance red-tape.