Patrons arriving to imbibe at certain Elgin bars 30 minutes before the 4 a.m. closing time may as well stay at home if the liquor control commission amends the city liquor code.
The commission Wednesday is set to discuss a proposal that, if approved, would require bars with 4 a.m. licenses to close their doors at 3:30 a.m. and to stop serving alcohol at 3:45 a.m.
The proposal is intended to restrict the people coming in late at night who have been in other bars, said Mayor Dave Kaptain, chairman of the liquor commission.
"They get warmed up some place else and they show up at 3:30 a.m. ... And I think (a liquor code amendment) is a way to restrict that," he said.
The proposal comes months after a summer incident at the Afterset bar in which police from Elgin and surrounding communities had to break up a fight. Ironically, the bar is across the street from the Elgin Police Department.
Roughly 200 people were at the 85-person capacity bar that night, Kaptain said. The commission will review a report Wednesday surrounding that incident.
Since the brawl, Elgin Police Sgt. Al Young has visited establishments with 4 a.m. liquor licenses and talking to owners to examine some of the problems and reach solutions. Afterset owner Efrain Roman confirmed he is in close contact with police and in the midst of developing a list to keep troublemakers out of his bar.
There are 105 liquor license holders in Elgin. The Mission nightclub and the Afterset are the only venues serving alcohol until 4 a.m. on weekends.
Reached Tuesday, Roman said he had not heard about the proposal.
"I don't know why this is a proposal that they're deciding on," Roman said. "We allow other patrons to be picked up and allow people to come in and take them home."
Dave Shelton, owner of the Mission nightclub, maintains a regular police presence most nights at his place from 3 to 4 a.m., and already stops serving alcohol at 3:45 a.m.
While he doesn't see any major problems with the proposal, he said the city should extend it to establishments with 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. licenses, rather than singling out the ones with 4 a.m. closures.
"It should be fair with all bars," Shelton said.
It's not just the issues within the bars the proposal aims to clean up.
People living near the establishments have a right to peace and quiet when they're trying to sleep, liquor control commission member John Prigge said. To that end, the liquor control commission should approve fewer 4 a.m. liquor licenses, particularly in the downtown, Prigge said. The commission recently rejected a 4 a.m. liquor license request for Grove Street Station, a business slated to fill the vacant Mad Maggie's property.
"A lot of this talk of serving liquor after 1 o'clock ... it's tough for me to absorb," Prigge said. "A 4 a.m. liquor license is a very special privilege in my eyes."