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Article updated: 2/13/2013 11:29 PM

Prospect Heights bistros seeking video gambling permits, owner says

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Three new bistros planned for Prospect Heights will target an "upscale" clientele, serve only patrons over 21 years old and seek video gambling permits from the state, a partner in Blackhawk Restaurants told the city council Monday.

The restaurants, called Penny's, will serve soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts and will request city licenses to serve beer and wine, said restaurant co-owner Mike Thiessen.

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Blackhawk plans to open one cafe in Prospect Crossing on Rand Road and is seeking special use permits from the city for two other locations, Palwaukee Plaza at Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue and at 8 N. Elmhurst Road, near city hall.

The proposals have been met with some skepticism from city leaders, including Aldermen Scott Williamson and Patrick Ludvigsen, who's expressed concerns about parking at the Elmhurst Road site in particular.

Ludvigsen also objected to having a place where families can't go at least for lunch.

"Sometimes it's OK just having adults in a place," Thiessen responded.

Williamson said with the number of places along Milwaukee Avenue already selling liquor, the area could reach saturation.

"I'm not sure I'm looking for Division Street on Milwaukee Avenue," he said.

Thiessen offered Williamson a tour of a new Blackhawk bistro in Morton Grove, which is the closest to opening in the area. The Prospect Heights cafes will duplicate that one, he said.

Blackhawk also has approval for a bistro in Hoffman Estates and plans two in Morton Grove, two in Oakbrook Terrace and others in southern suburbs. The company, which has 65 restaurants under four brand names in five Western states, wants to open 25 or 30 bistros in Illinois, Thiessen told the city's Plan/Zoning Board of Appeals last month.

Steve Skiber, director of building and zoning, reported to the zoning board that the parking deficit in the Elmhurst Road location was legal because the development was built in the 1940s, before the city was incorporated.

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