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updated: 4/9/2014 10:46 PM

Elgin panel delays decision on downtown bar

Elgin commission continues hearing against bar accused of liquor code violations

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The Elgin liquor control commission on Wednesday took no action against a downtown bar accused of liquor code violations and will meet again to continue the hearing next month.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kane County Judge David Akemann denied the Gasthaus Zur Linde bar's request for a temporary restraining order to delay the hearing.

Gasthaus attorneys in January filed a lawsuit arguing, among other things, that the city's allegations have no merit.

The commission could issue sanctions against the bar, 15 N. Grove Ave., after the city filed a complaint alleging a minor was served alcohol in May 2013, and that it operated as a nightclub two months earlier, exceeding the scope of its liquor license.

The minor, Adan Sandoval, was arrested after a May 10, 2013, stabbing that took place outside the bar; he was charged with armed violence, aggravated battery and mob action, Elgin Police Det. Tom Wolek testified during the hearing. The stabbing followed a fight that started inside the bar, police said.

On March 3, 2013, when the bar is accused of operating as a nightclub, a fight broke out at the Gasthaus while a hip hop DJ was playing music, attorney Stephen Tousey said, who represented the city at the hearing.

"It appears a shot was fired, and everybody left the place," he said.

At Wednesday's hearing, Mayor David Kaptain, the commission's chairman, denied Gasthaus attorney Charles Muscarello's request to postpone the proceedings until the Kane County court case is resolved.

Any liquor commission decision can be appealed to the state liquor commission and beyond, Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley said.

The commission -- which comprises all members of the city council -- viewed surveillance video provided to police by the Gasthaus showing Sandoval arriving at the bar, showing what looked like an ID to the employee at the door, and later buying a pitcher of beer at the bar with a credit card.

The bar's liquor license allows people under 21 to enter, although its policy is to only allow those over 21, Muscarello said.

Muscarello questioned why Sandoval wasn't charged with underage drinking. Wolek pointed out Sandoval was charged with three felonies. The disposition of those weren't immediately available.

Elgin's ordinance runs counter to state law, which allows bars to defend themselves on the grounds that a fake ID was presented, Muscarello said.

That argument does not apply to home rule municipalities like Elgin, Cogley said.

Muscarello also disputed the assertion that the bar was operating beyond the scope of its liquor license. There was no live band, only a DJ, and the bar serves food in compliance with its license requirements, he said.

Additionally, Muscarello questioned why the Gasthaus would get the complaints from the city, while the Elgin Moose Lodge only got an informal warning from the liquor commission after its members helped a fellow member evade police in September 2013.

The commission will meet again at 4 p.m. on May 14.

Both sides are due back before Akemann on May 20, as Gasthaus wants him to rule on whether the Elgin law oversteps its bounds.

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