Agreement reached for new store to sell packaged liquor
by BRIAN NADIG
The new Milwaukee’s Food and Liquor, 4701 N. Milwaukee Ave., will be able to sell liquor despite community opposition that initially led to the denial of its liquor license application.
A license for packaged liquor goods is being issued to the owner of the store after he agreed to restrictions which address residents’ concerns, Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said. A License Appeal Commission hearing was canceled last week after the owner signed a plan of operation, which allows the restrictions to become conditions of the license, Brugh said.
"It is a small grocery with a liquor section, not a liquor store with a small grocery section," Brugh said. "The requirement that they comply with that provision, which is in the zoning code, is also in the plan of operation, so we have two different avenues to enforce if it becomes an issue."
The Chicago Liquor Commission denied the store’s application because of a high concentration of liquor stores in the area and residents’ concerns about vagrancy, noise, increased traffic and public intoxication. Arena expressed concern that the store would be too close residences and to Wilson Park, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The restrictions include a ban on the sale of single-serve containers of beer and half pints of liquor, and the sale of liquor is restricted to the hours of 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays. Without the plan of operation, the sale of liquor would be allowed to 2 a.m.
After the first year, the time for the sale of liquor will be extended to 1 a.m. Saturday nights if the store has shown to be a responsible license holder, Brugh said. In addition, liquor which retails for less than $6.99 cannot be sold, and coolers which are used to store liquor must be kept locked before and after the designated hours for the sale of alcohol.
Brugh said that the restrictions could not have been guaranteed if the matter had gone to court. "While we feel we would have won at the license appeal hearing, in the courts it would have been a coin toss," he said.
The plan of operation also requires that a wrought iron-style fence be installed at a driveway entrance on Milwaukee that leads to parking in the rear of the site. The fence could include a gate, but only residents who live in the building’s second-floor apartments would to enter through the gate.
Brugh said that blocking access to the rear parking lot from the store’s patrons addresses concerns about public drinking behind the store and about traffic in the alley. He said that street parking should be sufficient to accommodate the store’s customers. The previous occupant of the storefront was a carpet business.
Brugh said that the plan of operation for the store is similar to one that was implemented earlier this year for the 7-Eleven store at 4859 N. Milwaukee Ave. The 7-Eleven lost its liquor license last year after it changed from being a franchise to a corporate store, and the liquor commission initially denied its application because of concerns about public drinking near the Jefferson Park CTA terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.