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updated: 7/21/2011 1:12 PM

Des Plaines reverses position on 4 a.m. liquor license

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  • The 3 Gs -- the new ownership group behind the Miner Street Tavern in downtown Des Plaines -- are Alex Giannikoulis, John Grammatis and Kostas Giannikoulis. The tavern will still serve patrons until 4 a.m.

       The 3 Gs -- the new ownership group behind the Miner Street Tavern in downtown Des Plaines -- are Alex Giannikoulis, John Grammatis and Kostas Giannikoulis. The tavern will still serve patrons until 4 a.m.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer February 2010

 
 

The Miner Street Tavern in downtown Des Plaines will change its ownership but still will be able to serve patrons until 4 a.m. after the city council approved a proposal it rejected a year ago.

Des Plaines has debated for years about how late restaurants/bars should be allowed to serve alcohol. The city cannot get rid of 4 a.m. licenses already in existence unless the licensee applies for a change of ownership.

A year ago, the city council denied the tavern's application for a change of ownership on the existing 4 a.m. license. Though the business, 1492 Miner St., remains within the same family, some aldermen had hoped to have the tavern owners apply for a 2 a.m. license instead.

At the time, Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan had said city officials won't be granting any more 4 a.m. liquor licenses, and would like to eliminate all such licenses in town.

Recently though, Des Plaines approved 4 a.m. liquor licenses for six restaurants and bars at the new Rivers Casino under a new liquor license category. The casino is open from 9 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily.

There was no objection from aldermen to the casino, which is on the edge of town in a commercial area surrounded by major highways, having 4 a.m. liquor licenses.

Meanwhile, instead of applying for a 2 a.m. license, the operators of Miner Street Tavern made improvements and returned with a renewed request.

That didn't sway Ward 5 Alderman Jim Brookman.

"I think (a tavern) it's different than the casino," he told the tavern owners Tuesday night. "I think people are going to be driving to your establishment from another tavern closing at 2 a.m. I just think perpetuating a 4 a.m. license sends a mixed message to the young people in the city."

John Grammatis of Arlington Heights, who is buying the tavern from his father-in-law with the man's two sons, said 85 percent of the bar's customers live behind it at the nearby Metropolitan Square condominiums and walk home. Management calls cabs for customers who are unfit to drive, he said.

"We don't let anyone in after 2 a.m. from other bars," said Grammatis. "We are catering to the third-shift employees."

A few other Northwest suburbs allow drinking until 4 a.m. at limited establishments: Bartlett, Hoffman Estates, Prospect Heights and Rosemont. A majority of suburbs limit their licenses to 2 a.m., with a few bars allowed to serve until 3 a.m.

In defending his request, Grammatis touted the recently completed rehab of the building's facade, the institution of a dress code for employees, and the fact that there have been no complaints about the bar. He said he plans to buy an ID scanner to improve security.

While police have received complaints about the bar in the past, "there haven't been any problems with the people that are managing the place now," Police Chief Jim Prandini said.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Patti Haugeberg said she has seen remarkable changes with Miner Street Tavern over the past three years.

Ward 3 Alderman Matt Bogusz agreed that the bar does a good job, but added, "I don't want Des Plaines to be a 4 a.m. town."

Alderman Mark Walsten, whose 6th Ward is home to the new casino, said casino employees would probably frequent the downtown bar after they got off work.

"I think we should support this business in our downtown area," he said.

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