A Pedal Pub operator plans to launch her business in Naperville without allowing patrons to drink while onboard the 15-person bicycle as it travels from bar to bar.
The liquor commission denied O'Brien's Pedal Pub owner Monica Bennett's request for a bring-your-own-booze permit to apply to the vehicles she plans to begin operating in the city on St. Patrick's Day 2018.
"While the idea perhaps seems fun and jolly," liquor commissioner Pam Davis said, "there was some concern that it didn't feel as though it was going to be appropriately managed."
Liquor commissioners said the majority of their concerns lie with how much alcohol Pedal Pub customers could drink during a tour between bars in the city's downtown.
"To do this over two hours seems like the consumption potential there is going to be high," liquor commissioner Chuck Maher said.
Bennett said she understands the commission's hesitance to grant her request. She intends to prove her business can operate responsibly for several months before asking again for the right to let customers bring drinks on board.
Bennett said last month she thinks the Pedal Pub trend, which already is popular in cities such as Champaign, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis and Nashville, is coming to the suburbs. Allowing BYOB would be a competitive advantage against pubs that soon could begin rolling elsewhere in the region, she said.
But she's willing to launch the business she's starting with her siblings without drinks on board in order to build community goodwill.
O'Brien's Pedal Pub, however, is up against perception of what the unusual vehicles are -- basically, a mobile drinking fest. The image concerns some liquor commissioners who want to preserve a certain downtown image and avoid a return to the rowdiness that last caused concerns with fights and DUI deaths in 2014.
"This is really more of an open-air party atmosphere on wheels going through downtown," liquor commissioner Kim White said.
The large, SUV-sized bicycles are powered by riders with a small engine as a backup and a sober driver to pilot their course on crowded city streets.
The city doesn't regulate their presence on the roads, so City Prosecutor Kavita Athanikar said Bennett is free and clear to begin operating without further municipal review.