Elgin says goodbye sports bar, hello Danny's Pizza
The Douglas Street Sports Bar in Elgin in happier times. The bar closed for good Monday night.
RICK WEST | Staff Photographer
Downtown Elgin's Douglas Street Sports Bar and Grill is officially closed.
The business, which opened in December 2008 at the corner of Douglas and Kimball streets, shut its doors for good after one final Monday night Bears game — where a win provided at least a faint silver lining.
Co-owner Joe Mastrangelo said several factors affected the decision to close, most recently the Elgin City Council's decision to maintain a prohibition on video gambling.
Mastrangelo said he and fellow owner J Michael Ross expected to add video gambling machines from the start, only to wait years with no progress at the state level. After the state finally started accepting applications for the machines, Elgin City Council members voted unanimously to keep a law on the books restricting such gambling.
"The city voted against it because they said their loyalty was to the Riverboat," Mastrangelo said, referring to the Grand Victoria Casino. "That takes away a big chunk of revenue we were expecting to get."
Mastrangelo also pointed to a local 3-percent alcoholic beverage tax that took effect July 1 as a factor in the decision to leave.
Mayor David Kaptain said the new tax was unanimously approved by a council looking for ways to reduce the city's deficit. It was chosen over a food and beverage tax that would have affected more people in town.
He pointed to a market analysis by a professional consultant who came to Elgin several years ago and said the average bar and restaurant lasts only two years.
"This is a very difficult business to try to start in a very difficult economic time," Kaptain said. "We try to help, and I want people to be successful"
Mastrangelo cited landlord issues that meant no air conditioning at the bar the first three years he was in business, an economic environment reducing the number of times customers have decided to eat or drink out per week and even the Bears not making it to the playoffs last year as additional factors.
But it's not the end of entrepreneurship for him. While Mastrangelo said he has no desire to open another, perhaps smaller, restaurant in Elgin, he is looking elsewhere.
"There are better things coming," Mastrangelo said.
And the building that used to house the restaurant and bar will soon be home to Danny's Pizza, which already has an Elgin location on McLean Boulevard. Four generations of the Dalton family help run the business, maintaining a claim to fame as "Elgin's best pizza." Owners have not set an opening date yet but expect to be in business in the not-too-distant future.
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