The Gasthaus Zur Linde bar in downtown Elgin was found guilty of one of two liquor license violation allegations by the city's liquor control commission on Wednesday.
The commission, made up of the entire city council, ruled the Gasthaus did not exceed the scope of its liquor license on March 3, 2013, when the bar hosted a private birthday party during which a fight broke out and a shot was fired.
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The bar, however, was found guilty of serving alcohol in May 2013 to a minor, Adan Sandoval, who was arrested after a stabbing outside the bar. The violation, a first-time offense for the Gasthaus, carries a $500 fine.
"Our code is pretty plain about that," Mayor David Kaptain said.
Councilmember John Steffen was absent. Councilmembers Rose Martinez and Rich Dunne abstained. The ruling put an end to the issue that had dragged on as attorneys presented their cases over the course of four meetings since April.
Even though only $46.50, or 1.9 percent, of the Gasthaus' proceeds on May 10, 2013, came from food, the city's U-class liquor license held by the bar is too vague to find it guilty of not serving food and operating as a nightclub, Kaptain said.
"Our ordinance is a little bit lax and that is part of the problem," he said, later adding, "We might try to address that in the future."
Gasthaus attorney Charles Muscarello, son of bar owner Marco Muscarello, said he was pleased to be cleared of one violation.
He and his father will decide whether to appeal the guilty finding to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, he said, because state law doesn't penalize bars if they have been presented with a false ID, which Sandoval did on the night in question.
Councilman John Prigge said the Gasthaus benefited from a loophole in the city's ordinance.
"You're pretty close to the line of not being in compliance," he said. "My suggestions it to be aware of the line. Don't go so close to it."
Marco Muscarello pointed out the U-class liquor license, which doesn't allow anyone under 21 to enter the bar, makes it difficult to serve food to families.
The Gasthaus also has a pending lawsuit in Kane County against the city, in which it argues the allegations have no merit and the commission has a conflict of interest because it is made up of all nine city council members.
Marco Muscarello said he believes the city has been targeting his bar because it conflicts with plans for the possible redevelopment of Tower Building.
Wisconsin-based Gorman & Co. had entered into a contract last year to buy the now-condemned building, but negotiations have stalled and might not resume, Gorman COO Tom Capp said.
Elgin police Cmdr. Ana Lalley, the police department's liaison to the liquor commission, said she will be looking into a report of a fight involving 30-40 people outside the Gasthaus at about 2:50 a.m. on July 25. That could potentially bring further liquor license violation charges against the Gasthaus.