Liquor sales unlikely at downtown Naperville Walgreens
Walgreens is close to gaining approval to sell alcohol at nine of its 10 stores in Naperville, but the pharmacy in downtown likely will be excluded.
A request to create a new type of liquor license for drugstores would not include the Walgreens at 400 S. Main St., officials said.
Concerns about "pre-partying" before visiting bars in downtown are causing reservations among city council members who say now is not the time to allow more alcohol sales downtown.
"The sticking point with a lot of us here is the downtown," council member David Wentz said Tuesday. "This is really where convenience meets public safety. And I think that public safety in this situation should prevail."
Council members have been concerned with downtown safety since two events over the summer -- a fatal crash into a water-filled quarry and a large fight on Washington Street -- illustrated problems with overservice or overconsumption of alcohol. Actions since then have restricted late-night bar entry, beer sizes, shot sales and drink prices and have required additional state-certified beverage server training for security personnel at bars citywide.
Some council members said the downtown night scene has calmed since the regulations were imposed beginning in September. So while Walgreens' request to begin selling alcohol at the Main Street pharmacy might be a victim of timing, as council members Grant Wehrli and Steve Chirico put it, others said no good can come from adding a new spot to buy packaged liquor near the city's highest concentration of bars.
"It can only result in undoing some of the things that we've put in place," council member Robert Fieseler said.
Three downtown businesses currently can sell packaged liquor: The Lantern, Twisted Olive and Tasting deVine. A separate proposal being considered simultaneously with the potential creation of a pharmacy liquor license would prohibit packaged alcohol sales at any other location in the downtown, but would grandfather in those three establishments.
The new liquor license for pharmacies would cost $3,000 a year and be capped at 10 licenses for nine Walgreens pharmacies and the CVS at 644 N. Route 59. It would prohibit any in-store sampling and sales of individual cans of beer, except for those defined as "craft beer" in the city's liquor code.
"I don't think they should be able to sell any individual beer cans at all," council member Doug Krause said.
Walgreens, however, is seeking the ability to sell any type of individual beer as long as the can or bottle is between 16 and 32 ounces.
The city council could make changes to the pharmacy liquor license during its next meeting Dec. 16 when the proposal is set for a vote.