Moving around the second floor of Rizzo's in downtown Naperville should be a little easier, but getting there might take longer now that the bar has completed renovations to improve safety and reduce overcrowding.
Renovations have reduced the number of entrances to the second floor from three to one and resulted in a new second-story bar that runs parallel to the shape of the building, owner Chuck Rizzo said.
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"It's a long narrow building and we had a bar that runs perpendicular to the length of the building, which creates bottlenecks and creates a lot of problems near the stairwell," Rizzo said. "The overcrowding creates a lot of tension, a lot of problems."
There are still three ways to exit the second floor, and the bar has increased its nightly security presence from nine guards to 11 or 12, all in an effort to decrease "tension" between customers that could cause altercations.
Rizzo said the parallel bar layout lets people move around the second floor more easily. And security at the only entrance to the upper level can make sure no one has been overserved by watching customers as they wait to climb the stairs.
"We feel that we're trying to be proactive about certain situations that may occur," he said.
Rizzo said the renovations were not in response to any specific fight or disturbance.
But Naperville police said they have been called to the Rizzo's address at 6 W. Jefferson Ave. 24 times in 2013 and five times so far this year.
Sgt. Bill Davis said these calls for fights in progress or disorderly conduct might have occurred outside the bar, not necessarily inside it. They resulted in 27 arrests in 2013 for offenses such as battery and aggravated battery as well as eight arrests so far this year for similar charges.
Rizzo briefed the liquor commission about the renovations in May after first running his plans by the liquor concept committee in March. Naperville Mayor George Pradel, who is also the city's liquor commissioner, said he wanted to highlight the positive steps Rizzo's is taking to improve night-life conditions.
The renovations "increase safety and efficiency of one of the most popular establishments in Naperville," and illustrate "the type of strategic thinking we like to see downtown to eliminate some of the factors that may be causing issues," city prosecutor Mike DiSanto said.
Rizzo's is open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
"We're just trying to create a better atmosphere," Rizzo said, "A safer atmosphere for everyone," Rizzo said.