St. Charles aldermen now allow drive-through liquor sales
It wasn't shock and awe for Peter Bogle when he learned St. Charles aldermen voted to permit drive-through liquor sales in the city this week. It was more like shock and irritation, the feelings of missed opportunity.
Those are the kinds of feelings Mayor Ray Rogina said city officials want to eradicate.
Aldermen shot down Bogle's pitch to bring the first drive-through grocery store in Kane County to St. Charles last year -- mainly because he wanted to sell beer and wine along with milk and bread. Aldermen, at the time, said they didn't want to make alcohol purchases too convenient.
But soon, buying alcohol in St. Charles may become easier than anywhere else in Kane County.
Aldermen on Monday, with a 7-3 vote, paved the way for Lundeen's liquor store at 1315 W. Main St. to install a drive-through. The ordinance, which goes live 10 days after the vote, applies not only to the Lundeen's but to all 21 of the city's current Class A liquor license holders. Any or all of those licensees could now come forward and request to install a similar drive-through.
"I was honestly shocked," Bogle said of the city council's change of heart. "Why now? I was a little upset to hear about it to be honest."
Bogle said he's happy to hear about any plans that might help the city. But he's abandoned his idea for the drive-through grocery, even though the old Kwik Lube site is still searching for a tenant. He decided to try to pursue a bigger business plan, specifically outside St. Charles.
"The city just wasn't very supportive of me," Bogle said. "So they missed a window to lease space in St. Charles, and I've moved on to other projects."
Rogina said Tuesday he would urge Bogle to take a second crack at the drive-through grocery. The city and its leadership is evolving its way of thinking, Rogina said. The local municipal share of the state income tax is still under threat as long as the Illinois General Assembly is fighting over the state budget.
If that money evaporates for St. Charles, Rogina said he's absolutely sure residents don't want the city raising their taxes. And after years of belt-tightening through the recession, there are not many notches left, he said.
"We're going to have to hang our hat on growth," Rogina said. "I think the council, the majority of the council, has taken the approach of being a little more business-friendly as of late."
Drive-through liquor sales are the most recent manifestation of that new attitude. Rogina told aldermen such sales will not only help the Lundeen's business, but it will be a convenience to the city's elderly and disabled residents.
Aldermen Rita Payleitner, Jo Krieger and Maureen Lewis didn't buy that argument.
They all voted against drive-through liquor sales, a significant stance since Payleitner and Lewis also serve as city liquor commissioners. Rogina reminded them during earlier discussions Monday the liquor commission is only an advisory body.