St. Charles officials handed down liquor license fines to two establishments this week for committing violations that will test aldermen's willingness to continue allowing taverns to police themselves.
Owners of the Alibi Bar & Grill were cited for both advertising and giving away free liquor for commercial purposes. The violations carried a total fine of $1,000 plus an additional $500 in court costs. It's the tavern's second liquor license violation since May. A third violation could result in license suspension.
The owners of Kane County Rookies were cited for overserving three people and permitting them to loiter on the premises. That citation carried a $1,500 fine plus an additional $500 in court costs. This was also the second time Rookies was cited for a violation, but it is the first incident since December 2011.
The violations occurred little more than a week after city council members agreed to let a newly-formed Tavern Association try to tackle recurring problems with public intoxication, urination and brawls. Downtown tavern owners pitched the association, and a plan for self-regulation, in hopes of convincing aldermen not to force them to close earlier than competitors in neighboring Geneva.
Mayor Don DeWitte, also the city's liquor commissioner, said he sees signs the new association might work despite the violations. DeWitte said the Alibi's violation was actually reported by another tavern in the downtown. That's a sign that the taverns may really be committed to policing their peers, DeWitte said.
"It is indicative that they are listening to our concerns at the city, and that they are responding to the issues that we see as being problematic," DeWitte said.
Rookies, near Randall Road, is somewhat removed from the downtown. DeWitte said he never thought of the establishment as being eligible for the downtown Tavern Association. A big part of that has to do with Rookies typically closing earlier than the downtown taverns, DeWitte said. The Tavern Association is not expected to have any peer policing over Rookies, he added.
"Nevertheless, the issues are all the same," DeWitte said.
With that in mind, members of the Tavern Association are set to give a first report to aldermen on the progress of the group Monday night. DeWitte said he is particularly interested in hearing if all the downtown taverns have agreed to join the association and be subject to the peer policing.