Naperville officials want to close bar on Black Wednesday
If police and several city council members have their way, one of downtown Naperville's most notorious watering holes may be left out of the most intoxicating day of the year.
Mayor George Pradel, who also serves as the city's liquor commissioner, said he will meet Monday with police Chief Bob Marshall, a city attorney and Black Finn general manager Lenny Skorcz to discuss several violent fights and an increasing number of police calls to the saloon at 16 E. Jefferson Ave.
"I'm disturbed by the recent happenings in downtown and the fact that police records indicate most of these negative events are happening at Black Finn," Pradel said. "But we need to be fair before we go in and just shut them down. We're going to lay all of our cards on the table and let them know things have to change and quickly."
Earlier this week, while discussing safety improvements being implemented downtown, Marshall said "there definitely seems to be some patterns and trends that indicate some of the more serious offenses are occurring at that location and in that area,"
Several city council members said they believe Black Finn management has been warned and given enough time to address its problems.
Councilman Grant Wehrli said he wants Pradel to revoke the establishment's license for the week of Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest bar week of the year. Others have suggested the same message may be sent by shutting Black Finn down only on Black Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
"They've had enough slaps on the wrist over there. They've been in town three years now and they still haven't learned what being a responsible business owner in Naperville is all about," Wehrli said. "Maybe losing their license that third week in November would clue them in."
Councilman Paul Hinterlong said he would leave any punitive measures to Pradel and the city's liquor commission, but he believes the mayor would have reasonable cause to pull the bar's license.
"They don't seem to have their things under control as of late, so something needs to be done," Hinterlong said. "If we need to shut down someone who is not running a responsible business, then that's what we need to do."
Councilman Robert Fieseler called Black Finn the city's "ground zero for serious trouble" and said he would support a revocation of the bar's liquor license on Black Wednesday.
"They have already proven to us they can't handle a typical Saturday, so why should we trust them to handle Black Wednesday?" Fieseler asked. "I understand the mayor had to call for a meeting with Lenny (Skorcz) but Lenny should be up front and center leading the charge to turn things around in his establishment."
Councilman Steve Chirico said he would hate to take such a stance against a business owner but he doesn't think Black Finn's management has taken the situation seriously.
"I think it's becoming clear, based on the trend, that we need to make some adjustments. I don't know what steps the management has taken to help the situation, but it doesn't look like any," Chirico said. "And if they're not taking it seriously, I would not hesitate (to pull the license). I don't want to stomp on any business, but they have to get with the program."
Pradel said he doesn't expect any punitive measures to come from Monday's meeting, but indicated it could lead to an official hearing before the city's liquor commission.
"It's clear they have not been focusing on some of the more important aspects of their business but everyone deserves a fair shot," Pradel said.
Skorcz declined to answer questions on Friday.