Could a Wheeling funeral home soon serve alcohol?
People attending a funeral or wake at a family-owned funeral home in Wheeling could soon be able to consume alcohol while celebrating the life of their deceased loved ones.
David Kolssak, CFO of Kolssak Funeral Home at 189 South Milwaukee Avenue, says the business doesn't want to become a "runaway tavern," but wants to keep up in a business that is changing.
The funeral home has been in the family since 1930. After his father died in April, Kolssak says they started looking at what they could do to keep up with the changing way the deceased are celebrated.
"One of those things is serving that class of funeral that doesn't actually have a viewing," Kolssak said. "Some people, their last request is that they want to buy a drink for everybody. And we see things moving from a traditional funeral to more of a life celebration."
As trustees discussed the proposal at a board meeting Monday night, Trustee Mary Krueger says she's seen people in the Kolssak parking lot tailgating for a funeral.
"Perhaps this offering will stop that," she said.
The board only discussed the draft ordinance that would allow funeral establishments to serve liquor. Village President Dean Argiris did not participate in the discussion citing he has a conflict of interest. He is listed as the funeral assistant at Kolssak Funeral Home.
The funeral home has plans to partner with Wheeling's Tuscany Restaurant for the alcohol sales. Tuscany would ultimately be responsible for serving the alcohol, and Kolssak says they've thought about adding a catering option as well.
"My intention is to use Wheeling businesses," Kolssak said. "I've got too many friends up and down Milwaukee Avenue not to."
While the funeral home is open from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m., Kolssak says he wouldn't mind stopping liquor sales at 8 p.m.
In a straw poll taken during the meeting, four trustees said they don't think the funeral home should have to sell food along with the alcohol. Trustees Krueger and David Vogel said food should be served with alcohol.
Kolssak says he hasn't heard of any other funeral homes in the area that allow alcohol to be consumed inside.
"If they're not doing it, I believe they will," Kolssak said.
It's unclear yet whether Kolssak would get any profit from the liquor sales, and that likely won't be worked out until fees for the license are determined, Kolssak says.
Under the proposal, alcohol would only be served to those who are of legal drinking age and attendees of the funeral or wake.