Naperville adds two new rules for liquor licenses

Naperville bars now have two new requirements to follow.

Establishments with liquor licenses no longer can offer specials that decrease the price of a drink to less than half its regular price, and they must get city-sponsored alcoholic beverage server training for their security personnel.

The city council enacted these two regulations Tuesday night but delayed action on three others that could restrict shot sales, decrease beer sizes and prevent people from entering bars within an hour of closing time.

“Our high-crime season is past us for the year. Allowing this to soak a little bit doesn't really hurt anything,” council member Grant Wehrli said about the proposed regulations the council put off for discussion in two weeks.

The move will prolong conversations about how to prevent overconsumption of alcohol and rowdiness in downtown Naperville, which has been the subject of concerns since a fatal crash and a large fight occurred during one weekend in July.

The idea of whether patrons should be forbidden from entering bars one hour before they close got the most discussion Tuesday night.

The council heard from Marriott Hotel general manager Dan Gustafson, who said not allowing people to “enter” an hour before closing time would be nearly impossible to regulate at a bar in the hotel lobby. Several council members said they agreed and they would like to see an exception made for hotels.

“If we rush to pass it tonight, we're going to deal with a lot of unintended negative consequences,” council member Robert Fieseler said about the proposed late-night entry restriction.

A proposal to cut the maximum serving size for beer to 20 ounces from 24 also drew attention Tuesday, with Ben Baggett from World of Beer saying several craft beers the bar sells are traditionally poured in servings greater than 20 ounces.

“If we're going to restrict the size of the drink, it's more important we consider the alcohol content as opposed to the ounces,” council member Steve Chirico said.

Before the council took a 7-2 vote to restrict specials and require security training, Pradel urged Naperville's elected officials to act now to make the downtown safer.

“We do have to make a decision and make some headway,” Pradel said. “We can't keep prolonging it and prolonging it.”

Council members Joseph McElroy and Judith Brodhead voted against the changes. Both said they wanted to restrict late-night entry as well. Jim Bergeron, who owns Wise Boxer Pour House in downtown Naperville, said many operators already have begun closing to new customers an hour before shutting down for the night, and the change is having a calming effect.

“To me, the late-night entry thing is the key,” McElroy said. “It's already working.”

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  Naperville City Council member Judith Brodhead voted against two new liquor license requirements approved Tuesday night. She and council member Joseph McElroy said they wanted to see late-night entry to bars also restricted in the changes the council approved by a 7-2 vote. Marie Wilson/
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