Can a Naperville haircut come with a beer?
Naperville liquor commissioners want to take their time and do their homework before deciding if a free beer can come with a haircut in town.
The franchise owner of a new men's salon opening Saturday pitched his concept to commissioners Thursday, seeking a new type of liquor license that would allow him to give out a bottle of beer to customers during their haircut.
Jon Forney, who is launching an 18|8 Fine Men's Salons location at Freedom Drive and Diehl Road, said a free beer is a perk salons in the growing chain try to offer.
"We're an upscale men's salon that's bridging the gap between the strip mall barbershop and the high-end women's salon," Forney said. "Our corporate environment likes to provide a complementary beer as one of the other beverages besides water, coffee, soda and tea."
Beer giveaways aren't key to his business success, Forney said. But most salons in the chain, which includes locations in Barrington and Glenview and one planned to open in January in Lombard, are able to offer beer as a beverage option. So instead of giving customers a free bottle and hoping nothing goes wrong, Forney said he wanted to inform the city of his operations and assume liability.
Liquor commissioners thanked him for bringing the issue to their attention, especially as Commissioner Diana Williams said many salons already give customers a free alcoholic drink -- without any license to do so.
"Sometimes when you're having a service that might be a few hours long, it is nice to have a glass of wine while your hair color processes," Williams said. "I do see it as business hospitality."
But therein lies the problem with potentially creating a license to regulate this type of liquor service, commissioners said.
Commissioner Marc Blackman said there could be many "unintended consequences" with licensing alcohol service at salons. For one thing, it could drastically increase the number of liquor licenses the city issues, which now stands near 200, because of the high number of salons in its borders.
Commissioners also questioned how many beverages each customer should be allowed to receive, what sizes of drinks should be allowed, how salon liquor service rules would be enforced and how many salons should be licensed.
"How many different places are we sanctioning to have beer, wine, whatever," Commissioner Joe Vozar said.
If a license isn't created, commissioners said they wondered what to do about salons that already give out drinks and whether to end the practice or turn a blind eye.
Liquor commissioners will review the issue again in June. By then, a six-month review of the city's entire liquor code will be complete. Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico said the review aims to clean up the text of the complicated liquor code, remove any contradictions and make it easier to read, understand, enforce and follow.