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updated: 11/6/2013 12:12 AM

2 Bartlett bars make final pitch for video gambling

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There were a few questions and little comment from the Bartlett village board Tuesday as the owners of two proposed video gambling bars gave their last pitch before their requests were passed along for a final vote at an upcoming meeting.

The board reviewed plans for Maxine's and Elsie's Place, which both want to install five video gambling terminals and serve light food, beer and wine.

Concerns have been brought up by the board and residents over the last few months about the increase of video gambling establishments in town and the proposed locations for Maxine's and Elsie's Place.

Two new video gambling bars with concepts similar to Maxine's and Elsie's Places were approved by the village earlier this year, and five existing establishments have already been granted a state license for video gambling.

Maxine's, which is eyeing a portion of a former Blockbuster store at 801 S. Rt. 59 in the Brewster Creek Shopping Center, is owned by Laredo Hospitality.

"There will be failures in this business," said Gary Leff, chief executive officer of Laredo Hospitality, comparing the video gambling bars to the fad of bagel shops and frozen yogurt businesses. "This isn't a simple business. That's why we've done more than just put video games in."

Leff said the company plans to put more than $200,000 into the Maxine's if it is approved.

"I would argue that it's going to be a lot tamer than any bar you can put in that center," he said. "We're going to be getting a clean-cut, nice crowd."

The village's plan commission reviewed the plans for Maxine's earlier this month and rejected it with a 5-3 vote. It also rejected Elsie's Place, which wants to open at 225 S. Main St. in a former deli in Bartlett Town Center, with a 7-0 vote.

Because both failed at the plan commission level, it is required that at least four trustees on the board vote yes to the proposals or they will not pass, said Community Development Director Jim Ploncynski.

The biggest concern residents have expressed with Elsie's -- which is run by Lieberman Cos. -- is its proposed location beneath the Bartlett Town Center Lofts, where at least 16 units are occupied. Trustee Greg Martin also questioned Lieberman President Hal Lieberman about the quality of the food that will be served at Elsie's, which he said will mostly be prepared sandwiches, food on rollers and microwaved items.

"We do believe our food use and our ability to deliver a quality product would be welcome at the Town Center, which as you all know ... is dark in the evening and not only could use the business, but I think we can bring something a little bit different than what is downtown."

He added that the company is dedicated to being a good neighbor to the residents above the proposed bar.

"This is not a location where there's going to be a lot of noise," Lieberman said, adding that the company is willing to adjust hours as needed.

The owners of both the Brewster Creek Shopping Center and the Bartlett Town Center attended the meeting and voiced their support for the respective businesses that want to move into their space.

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