New St. Charles bar aims to offer Mexico City ambiance if liquor license is granted
Owners of a new bar proposed for downtown St. Charles aim to mirror the authentic food, drinks and ambience of Mexico City.
But city officials say they want to see a more refined business plan before considering granting a liquor license and late-night permit.
Luis Miguel Villanueva and his wife, Amy, are planning to open Glory City Bar at 11 N. Third St., the former Game on 3rd sports bar. The establishment would serve specialty cocktails, American pub cuisine, Mexican street food and an assortment of whiskeys and tequilas, according to a concept plan.
Operators initially intended to call the bar "Da Hood," as depicted on signs in the windows of their storefront. But Villanueva told the city's liquor control commission this week that they came up with a new name to better attract patrons of all ages.
"I don't want to target just a young crowd," he said.
The name change "makes a lot of sense," Mayor Ray Rogina said, and is more appropriate than a slang term.
"I don't think you want to limit (your demographic). You seem like you want a broad array of customers," he said, noting the Mexico City theme is "absolutely very positive."
Before moving forward with a liquor license, Rogina suggested giving Glory City a chance to shore up some details of its business plan, including finalizing the name and creating a more thorough list of food and drink items.
"We want you to be successful," said Alderman Lora Vitek, who sits on the liquor commission. "I think more detail with this plan would help so that we can be successful, too."
The Villanuevas also own Del Barrio Mezcaleria in Geneva and have run establishments in Chicago and West Chicago, police Chief James Keegan said. Their state license for the Geneva restaurant was temporarily suspended this year for failure to pay alcohol taxes, though Rogina said the issue was due to an electronic transfer glitch.
They also were cited in 2014 for selling alcohol to a minor, raising a red flag for St. Charles liquor commissioners. Such an offense is taken "very seriously" and results in severe penalties, Rogina said.
Glory City has requested a late-night permit to allow the bar to stay open until 1 a.m. Villanueva indicated he would like to extend that until 2 a.m.
Given the owners' past violations, however, Keegan recommended allowing a 1 a.m. permit with several restrictions starting at midnight, including not allowing new patrons in; eliminating glassware; and not selling shots or individual liquor servings.
"The chief and I and city council work very hard to erase what I thought perhaps was an image of a bar town, (and create) a location and area where there's entertainment, fun and people could enjoy themselves," Rogina said. "But we take any activity that steps across the line seriously."
The government operations committee is expected to review the application and discuss the proposed liquor license and late-night permit at its Sept. 3 meeting.