Couple wants to bring 'beer store and taproom' to Naperville

The working title of the concept is "Craft and Draft," meaning the place would be part craft-beer-focused liquor store and part small-scale bar serving craft beer and wine.

But the idea is giving Naperville liquor commissioners pause, so much so that the commission delayed a decision on whether to recommend approval of such a business model until at least October.

Potential business operators Sean and Maryanna Quinn of Woodridge approached the liquor commission with a pitch for the business they'd like to open, which they say joins a small but growing number of similar shops across the suburbs.

Sean Quinn described the idea as a "hybrid craft beer store and taproom." He said it would operate with "family friendly" retail hours, not as a late-night establishment and not as a restaurant, because there are no plans for a kitchen.

He also sought to operate without limits on how many drinks for in-store or outside consumption his business could sell to each customer.

"Basically, you could walk into a traditional store and purchase product to go, or stay and consume a draft beer on site," he said. "It'd be small - we're looking for more of a boutique feel."

There are similar shops in Tinley Park and Mokena, with one soon to open in Downers Grove and another in Glen Ellyn called The Beer Cellar.

Quinn said he and his wife are still searching for locations of roughly 1,500 to 2,000 square feet in strip malls with available space in Naperville. Their plan would feature a small bar with eight to 12 taps, a couple tables with chairs for customer seating and shelving for the to-go beers.

"Overall, it'd be a different atmosphere," he said. "Not a typical watering hole."

The problem in liquor commissioners' eyes arises because approving Craft and Draft could lead other liquor stores to seek similar permission to become taprooms.

"I'm not comfortable with starting a new class (of liquor license) that would potentially open up a lot of taverns," Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico said. "Even if they're only beer and wine taverns."

But in the month delay the commission imposed from the Quinns' Sept. 6 presentation until the next meeting in early October, members agreed to do research by visiting similar nearby businesses.

"The issue is always where do you draw the line on these sort of things," Commissioner Mitch Stauffer said. "I'm willing to go on a road trip and understand the concept."

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