St. Charles will allow alcohol consumption in grocery stores
St. Charles grocery stores with a designated serving area will be able to sell glasses of wine, beer or spirits for shoppers to drink on site, aldermen decided in a split vote Monday.
The concept stems from a request by the Blue Goose Market to build a wine bar where customers can sit and order an alcoholic beverage, or carry it with them while browsing the store. The city council voted 5-4 without discussion to update its liquor code accordingly.
The change is restricted to St. Charles stores with the primary purpose of selling groceries, rather than other merchandise, police Chief James Keegan said. The ordinance is based off a similar law in Bloomingdale, which has a Mariano's with a bar inside.
"We're moving to a direction where many stores, particularly grocery stores, are headed," Mayor Ray Rogina said. "I have no problem being on the cutting edge."
According to the measure, grocers can sell individual servings of alcohol within a specified area of the store, where food also is regularly prepared and served. To accommodate seasonal cookout events on Blue Goose's patio, St. Charles also is allowing liquor to be sold at a supermarket's outdoor grilling and barbecue stations, Keegan said.
Though the city council didn't discuss the proposal Monday, some aldermen expressed concerns over the code change during a committee meeting last month. Aldermen Rita Payleitner and Maureen Lewis said they were uncomfortable with including spirits in the ordinance -- a sentiment echoed by Alderman Ron Silkaitis, who also questioned how the overall concept would be enforced.
Alderman William Turner cast the fourth "no" vote Monday.
Supporters of the proposal, such as Alderman Lora Vitek, applauded the progressive nature of the idea and said it could help St. Charles businesses stay competitive with those in other communities.
Blue Goose CEO and President Paul Lencioni said serving alcohol on site gives customers an opportunity to taste the store's product while also engaging in a cultural food experience.
A site plan for the supermarket's new wine bar and serving area was unanimously approved by the city council Monday.
According to the ordinance, a supermarket's designated serving area can't be larger than 5 percent of its floor space. Once purchased, the alcohol can be carried throughout the store or on the patio.
The measure also says the sale and on-site consumption of alcohol must be an "adjunct operation" of the grocery store, which shouldn't be advertised as a drinking establishment.