New Naperville grocer in line to sell beer, wine
A new farmers market-style grocery store coming to Naperville is in line to sell beer and wine after a change the city made to its liquor code Tuesday night.
A specialty grocer called Fresh Thyme plans to open in October in the Cress Creek Square shopping center at 790 Royal St. George Drive, a location that required a change to the city's liquor code because it is close to a day care center.
Before Tuesday, the city code prohibited several types of liquor licenses from being issued to any user within 100 feet of a school or day care center. The KinderCare in the Cress Creek Square shopping center would have prevented Fresh Thyme for receiving a class G beer and wine liquor license to sell packaged goods, said Kavita Athanikar, city prosecutor.
But council members updated the liquor code to add a new exemption to the school and day care distance requirement. The exemption says establishments that don't sell alcohol as their primary business can be given licenses to sell liquor, even if they're located within 100 feet of a day care or school.
The change mirrors state code.
Since Fresh Thyme primarily will sell food, Athanikar said the code change the city council approved unanimously will give the new store the green light to offer beer and wine.
Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico said he is less concerned with allowing a grocer to sell alcohol for people to take home than with the idea of letting restaurants to serve alcohol near day care centers or schools.
"It wasn't sale of packaged goods that was our concern about locations near child care facilities as much as consumption," Chirico said.
Restaurants, however, already can get liquor licenses near schools and day cares. Near the KinderCare in Cress Creek, there are at least two such restaurants, including Indian Harvest and Braconi's Restaurant & Pizzeria. The shopping center also is home to a Binny's Beverage Depot.
Council member Kevin Gallaher said the school distance exemption for businesses that don't primarily sell alcohol is one way to allow businesses to remain in strip malls, despite nontraditional uses such as day care centers and churches also renting space there.
"If we don't support the ability of our retail businesses to operate in retail spaces, we're eventually going to lose everything," Gallaher said.