Booze-infused ice cream business wants to open in Naperville

 
 
Updated 2/8/2019 10:01 AM
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  • Chip VonLehman, potential franchiser of a Cincinnati-based ice cream called Buzzed Bull Creamery that offers booze-infused options, reacts Thursday as the Naperville liquor commission shows an early willingness to create a new liquor license to allow his concept to be legal.

      Chip VonLehman, potential franchiser of a Cincinnati-based ice cream called Buzzed Bull Creamery that offers booze-infused options, reacts Thursday as the Naperville liquor commission shows an early willingness to create a new liquor license to allow his concept to be legal. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

Freshly made, flash-frozen ice cream could come with an infusion of liquor in Naperville if city leaders approve a pitch from a franchiser who wants to bring a Cincinnati-based concept to the Western suburbs.

Buzzed Bull Creamery seeks the ability to add up to 3 ounces of liquor such as bourbon or vodka into housemade ice creams, milkshakes or coffee drinks. But that wouldn't be allowed under any of the liquor licenses Naperville already offers. Chip VonLehman, a Kentucky resident and potential Buzzed Bull franchiser, is asking the city to create an applicable license, and six out of eight liquor commission members on Thursday gave an early indication they'd be willing to do so.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Lutzke plans to write language for a potential liquor license that could allow the Buzzed Bull concept to be legal, capping it at one available permit to avoid every ice cream or coffee shop across town looking to spike their treats or drinks.

Liquor commission members Scott Wehrli and Joe Vozar weren't in favor of the idea, saying it's unfair to allow an ice cream shop to incorporate alcohol when previous businesses have been required to open full kitchens in order to get liquor licenses.

But Commissioner Chuck Maher called Buzzed Bull's idea "a taste experience" he wants the Naperville market to enjoy, and Commissioner Pam Davis said she thought the concept was worth a try.

"The world does change and new ideas are always welcome," Davis said.

VonLehman said despite the name, Buzzed Bull isn't aiming to get anyone drunk and wants to be a family-friendly place where kids and adults alike can get something sweet. Customers could not order alcohol on its own, but one or two shots could be added into ice cream specialties staffers would make on the spot for customers 21 and older and speed-freeze using liquid nitrogen.

"More than that would mess up the consistency of the product anyway," VonLehman said about the 2-shot limit. "If somebody wanted to come to our establishment to get their buzz for the evening, they would have a really difficult time doing it."

Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico said the shop's request to add alcohol into coffee could be the "deal-breaker." The city previously denied Starbucks' request for a liquor license, and the Craftsman by Two Brothers, which has alcohol-infused coffee on its menu, also has a full kitchen.

But Maher said Buzzed Bull's plan differs from Starbucks' because it is based on infusion of alcohol into regular products instead of addition of new alcoholic drinks to a coffee-focused menu.

VonLehman said he could consider selling all coffees virgin if spiked versions would prevent the rest of the business from gaining approval. But that's yet to be determined. The commission will review a potential new license at a later meeting. Any license created would need city council approval.

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