Naperville could extend outdoor liquor sales with sidewalk permit

 
 
Updated 6/8/2017 4:02 PM
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  • Several Naperville restaurants, including The Craftsman by Two Brothers, have requested a special permit to sell liquor on the public sidewalk. The city council could vote to create such a permit at its next meeting June 20.

      Several Naperville restaurants, including The Craftsman by Two Brothers, have requested a special permit to sell liquor on the public sidewalk. The city council could vote to create such a permit at its next meeting June 20. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

A cold one on a warm summer day at an outdoor patio in a suburban downtown.

It's possible at a few downtown Naperville restaurants, but not at places with outdoor seating on public sidewalks, which are city property.

A new permit the city council might create could change that, though, by extending the ability to conduct liquor sales to restaurants with sidewalk tables.

Some city leaders, including Mayor Steve Chirico, who also serves as liquor commissioner, say sidewalk sales of alcoholic drinks would add to the ambience of the "charming downtown."

"When I go to visit other communities," Chirico said, "I am able to sit out and enjoy a cafe-style meal and watch people and be with the community. I think it's a good thing."

But others see more risk of rowdiness than reward of relaxation from allowing the service of liquor on city sidewalks.

"What we're doing is just adding what could be additional risk and again additional opportunities for misbehavior," city council member Rebecca Boyd-Obarski said. "We already have a very walkable, friendly, easy-to-get-around downtown. We have several properties with private-property outdoor seating, where they can accommodate alcohol. ... I don't see that the potential risk and disruption is worth the reward."

Four downtown Naperville restaurants -- The Craftsman by Two Brothers, Front Street Cantina, Sullivan's Steakhouse and Quiubo -- have requested permission to sell alcohol at their outdoor eating areas, which are on public sidewalks outside their locations, City Prosecutor Kavita Athanikar said.

The liquor commission developed and recommended a permit that, for $500 a year, would allow restaurants to have trained wait staffs serve alcohol within enclosed areas on public sidewalks until 10 p.m., as long as they keep a clear path at least 5 feet wide for pedestrians to pass.

Restaurants seeking the permit must ensure none of the alcohol they serve leaves the enclosed sidewalk eating area and any amplified sound they provide isn't audible more than 50 feet away.

As long as private businesses are required to pay for use of the public way and permits are awarded fairly, council member John Krummen said he's fine with the idea.

Despite Boyd-Obarski's concerns, council member Kevin Coyne said he's not convinced sidewalk liquor sales would be a detriment to the downtown, especially since restaurants such as Jimmy's Grill already serve on large, private patios. Nearby communities of Wheaton and Plainfield already allow sidewalk liquor sales and haven't encountered problems, Athanikar said.

The council took no action toward creating a sidewalk liquor permit Tuesday. The panel could vote on the matter during its next meeting at 7 p.m. June 20 in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.

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