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updated: 4/21/2011 5:54 AM

Future of Elgin's Red Bar Winery in doubt

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  • The Red Bar Winery opened in Elgin in 2009. The restaurant, known for specialty wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license.

       The Red Bar Winery opened in Elgin in 2009. The restaurant, known for specialty wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The Red Bar Winery opened in Elgin in 2009. The restaurant, which is known for specialty wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license.

       The Red Bar Winery opened in Elgin in 2009. The restaurant, which is known for specialty wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license.
    BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer

  • The Red Bar Winery opened in Elgin in 2009. The restaurant, which is known for specialty wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license.

       The Red Bar Winery opened in Elgin in 2009. The restaurant, which is known for specialty wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license.
    BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Red Bar Winery on Grove Avenue in Elgin, known for its fruit-infused wines made on site, has not applied to renew its liquor license, Elgin city officials confirmed Wednesday.

The news could leave the future of the bar and restaurant, which opened in 2009, very much in doubt.

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Outgoing Elgin Mayor Ed Schock said missing the liquor license deadline is not a good sign.

"If they don't have a liquor license, a wine bar is not going to do too well," Schock said. "Any small retail restaurant business is really fragile in this kind of economy."

But co-owner Jim Canfield says he and his wife, Doris, are trying to make it work. The problem, he explained, is that they can't meet the payments on a bank loan he took out to expand the business.

The bank payments, he says, are preventing him from paying his taxes in full -- and his tax bill must be paid before he can get a liquor license.

"It's all cash flow," Jim Canfield said. "We're in a period of growth, but we wouldn't be the first successful business to go under."

The Red Bar's liquor license expires April 30. Renewal forms were due April 1.

Still, Canfield said he hopes to stay open after April 30 -- even, temporarily, as a restaurant where patrons can bring their own wine. In the meantime, he hopes to work out better loan terms or bring in investors.

"We are committed and we are excited about staying open," Canfield said. "We have every intention of paying back the loan."

Quizno's and the Road House Bar (formerly Prairie Rock Bar) both closed in downtown Elgin within in the past year.

Mayor-elect David Kaptain said the city offers grants to fix up buildings when businesses are starting up and has worked with the Downtown Neighborhood Association to spruce up the streetscape. Beyond that, there's not much the city can do, he said.

"It gets problematic when you go in and try to help businesses that are going to fail," Kaptain said. "That's a slippery slope."

Canfield, though, says the city hasn't done enough, and he attributed the struggles of some downtown businesses to a lack of investment in the city center.

"They could have built downtown," Canfield said. "They could have helped businesses survive."

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