Naperville reconsidering liquor licenses for hair salons
The trend of hair salons serving alcohol isn't going away, so after some hesitation, Naperville appears more open to allowing it.
The city so far has declined to create a salon liquor license, despite a request last December from 18|8 Fine Men's Salons, which sought to give a free bottle of beer to customers during their haircut.
Concerns about enforcement among a potential high number of salons, as well as limits on drink sizes and number of drinks served, caused liquor commission members to hold off.
But a request from Ten Friends Blow Dry and Style House has them reconsidering.
Instead of giving away free beer like 18|8 wants to -- and as many salons do without a license -- Ten Friends wants to offer wine and beer for sale. The service would be part of what owner Cathleen Stoelting calls a "five-star" hairstyling experience at the Naperville location her chain plans to open in October at 95th Street and Route 59.
"We want to create a very homey, approachable environment ... We want it to be about empowering and inspiring women to be the best they can be, both inside and outside," Stoelting said. "Having the ability to serve a glass of wine to our guests is integral."
When Ten Friends opened shops in Hinsdale, Deer Park and Glenview, it had to work with municipal officials in two of those towns to create new liquor licenses.
Stoelting said all of the company's hospitality employees receive the state-certified Beverage Alcoholic Sellers and Servers Education Training. They check each customer's ID, serve 8-ounce pours of wine and keep strict control on inventory.
Some of these measures could offer a step up in safety, Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico said.
"If we create this license, we might be actually providing a path to better controls and a safer environment," he said, "because now we're allowing people to do this legally."
The distinction that Ten Friends wants to sell alcohol instead of giving it complimentary changed the mind of liquor commission member Joe Vozar, who said requiring customers to pay naturally puts a cap on how many drinks they'll consume.
"We're buying amazingly awesome wine," Stoelting said. "I could never give it away."
Concerns remain about licensing alcohol sales at hair salons because the facilities often draw people who are younger than 21. Ten Friends might attract high school girls getting their hair done for a dance, liquor commission member Chuck Maher said.
Any consideration of a new liquor license also should examine other shops that could want to add alcohol in the future. Coffee shops especially come to mind, as the liquor commission recently denied a license request from Starbucks, citing concerns about proliferation of alcohol at places frequented by teens.
Liquor commission members will review potential new license regulations from the legal department during a future meeting. A license for salons could come with a cap, which would help prevent all 121 salons in Naperville from turning into mini bars.
"We have to be conscious and sensitive to the people that don't necessarily want to be around alcohol," liquor commission member Marc Blackman said. "A cap is really important because we don't want this on every corner."