Naperville businessman and restaurateur Jim Bergeron could be taking over BlackFinn American Saloon as soon as next week.
City council members Tuesday approved a late-night liquor permit for Bergeron, one of the final steps before he officially can take ownership of the troubled downtown establishment he identified only by its address: "16 W. Jefferson."
Bergeron recently told the city's liquor commission one of his first orders of business will be to change the establishment's name.
BlackFinn's reputation suffered because of a series of violent incidents that occurred at the bar and that raised questions about safety in downtown Naperville after dark, especially on weekends.
"The agreements are all signed so really where we are, logistically of me taking over the property, is fulfilling all state and municipal requirements on licensing," Bergeron told council members Tuesday. "The faster I get in there, the faster I can start correcting some of these issues and getting the safety up to where it needs to be."
Councilman Grant Wehrli asked how soon the locks would be changed and keys turned over to Bergeron.
"If everything goes well, Monday or Tuesday. If it gets delayed, it gets delayed. But I'd prefer to push as fast as we can to get in and start securing the building and getting started on the right foot," Bergeron said. "We're ready to go when you're ready to go."
Bergeron already owns the site and previously has run a pizza restaurant and an Italian restaurant, Tessa's, in that location. He also owns downtown's Jimmy's Grill. He told the council he intends to make better use of the facility's two kitchens and focus more on food than alcohol sales.
During Thanksgiving week last year, BlackFinn surrendered its late-night liquor permit for three nights and paid a $1,000 fine as a culmination of several liquor code violations and violent activities. The city also required BlackFinn to install security cameras and use an electronic ID checker at the door.
As recently as May 12, seven patrons were charged with battery and criminal damage to property resulting from what police Chief Robert Marshall called a "significant rumble" in the bar.
On Tuesday night, Marshall reiterated his support for Bergeron acquiring the business.
"I'm very pleased with Mr. Bergeron taking over. I've told him I will do whatever I can do to help him be successful," Marshall said. "He already runs a great establishment downtown so we're looking forward to working with him to be successful in the new place."