Wheeling board grants funeral home permission to serve alcohol

In a move that allows a Wheeling funeral home to “pioneer” into uncharted territory, the Wheeling village board Monday approved the creation of a new liquor license that allows Kolssak Funeral Home to serve alcohol during funerals and wakes.

David Kolssak, CFO of Kolssak Funeral Home, 189 South Milwaukee Avenue, came to the Dec. 7 village board meeting for discussion on his proposal to work with a Wheeling catering company in serving alcohol to funeral and wake attendees to keep up with the changing ways people are celebrating the death of loved ones. Kolssak says he sees things moving away from traditional funerals to life celebrations.

“Right now we're pioneering, we're out there looking far out, thinking these things could change the life celebrations at a funeral home,” David Kolssak said. “The spirit of this is not to do nothing but help people at a time of need.”

The original resolution did not require food be served in conjunction with the alcohol, but Trustee Mary Krueger lobbied Monday for an amendment that would require food be served alongside the alcohol. Trustees unanimously approved the amendment.

“Even the happy hour law of Illinois requires that some food be provided,” Krueger said. “Eat food while you drink, it's just about absorption.”

Jon Kolssak, owner and funeral director, said offering a catering option could also take the burden of providing food off the grieving family's to-do list.

The board approved the amended resolution by a 5-1 vote. Trustee Bill Hein was the only dissenting vote.

“I consider this to be an ancillary use, and I don't think liquor licenses should be used for that,” Hein said.

Village President Dean Argiris did not vote due to a conflict of interest. He is listed as a funeral assistant at the Kolssak Funeral Home.

David Kolssak and Jon Kolssak said they've received an “overwhelming” and positive response from people across the county since Dec. 7.

“We struck a chord and people want to talk about it,” David Kolssak said.“Now it's up to us to execute it.”

Neither of the Kolssaks are worried bringing liquor into the funeral home will lead to irresponsible consumption.

“There's a certain amount of decorum that goes into running a funeral establishment,” David Kolssak said. “We're not intending to even come near to toeing the line there.”

Under the new resolution, the funeral home will not be allowed to apply for video gambling machines, and it can only serve to funeral and wake attendees from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

David Kolssak says now that the board has approved the new liquor license, the funeral home will work more closely with Wheeling's Tuscany Restaurant, who will be responsible for serving the alcohol, to come up with food and drink packages.

“Right after the holidays, that's going to be our number one thing, and once it's ready we'll put it on our website,” David Kolssak said.

Kolssak Funeral Home will pay $900 for the liquor license in the first year.

Could a Wheeling funeral home soon serve alcohol?

Kolssak Funeral Home CFO David Kolssak said earlier this month that the business was interested in a liquor license to keep up with the evolving funeral industry. Many people, he says, are moving from traditional funerals and wake to celebrations of the lives of their loved ones. Courtesy of Kolssak Funeral Home
The Wheeling village board Monday granted Kolssak Funeral Home permission to serve liquor to funeral and wake attendees. The funeral home's CFO, David Kolssak, says they'll work with Wheeling's Tuscany Catering for alcohol and food packages. Courtesy of Kolssak Funeral Home
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