Rich Simpson's plan to bring a new business to downtown St. Charles would be welcome in a down economy in most instances. But aldermen tired of the frequent need for police intervention at downtown taverns on the weekend eyed Simpson's liquor license application with more skepticism Monday night.
Simpson wants to open a business called the Alibi Bar & Grill at 12 N. Third St. Aldermen told Simpson on Monday that they welcome the "grill" part of his plan, but they aren't big fans of the "bar" part. Simpson's plan envisions a "restaurant-style sports bar that will serve American-style food, cocktails, beer and appetizers." He plans on having live entertainment at the establishment as well. He's even agreed to close his doors at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights just to win a more favorable view of his liquor license application. But aldermen on the city council's government operations committee weren't sold.
"I really don't think St. Charles needs more bars," Alderman Cliff Carrignan said.
He found quick agreement from resident David Amundson.
Amundson lives in the downtown area and said the family-centered community he moved to has evolved into a weekend destination for young people on drinking binges.
"I see people urinate in the park, urinate on St. Pat's, urinate on other people's property," Amundson said. "We are bearing the brunt of the cultural shift that this town has gone through. When I run my errands downtown, I have to walk around the vomit stains on the sidewalk. I am not going to be puritanical and say no bars.
"The problem is saturation. I think we're past that saturation point. I would like to see economic development that doesn't require police presence to keep it in line."
Amundson's comments spurred the rest of the conversation about how many taverns is too many in the city. Staff estimated there are between 50 and 60 restaurants in the city that have liquor licenses. Alderman Jim Martin has long crusaded against city's tavern density.
"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I've voted 'no' for so many years against liquor licenses," Martin said of Amundson's speech.
Unconvinced that Simpson's business will be more restaurant than bar, the committee tabled his liquor license request. Aldermen told Simpson to come back with a better description of his business, including its focus and ability to meet the parking demands of his customers.
Simpson's application has the support of Mayor Don DeWitte.
"We have a businessman here that has basically invested $400,000 to $500,000 in our downtown business environment," DeWitte said. "I don't think it can be overlooked that this represents a significant investment in our downtown."
DeWitte, as the city's liquor commissioner, has worked with Simpson on refining his application.
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