Delay in proposal to eliminate moratorium on liquor licenses
by BRIAN NADIG
The proposed lifting of a moratorium to allow a liquor license to be issued for a new bar in the former Bill’s Pub, 4104 N. Pulaski Road, has been delayed, while the possibility of a late-night license for Brudder’s Lounge, 3600 W. Addison St., has raised concern among area residents.
Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) introduced an ordinance last month that would lift the moratorium on issuing new liquor licenses on Pulaski between the Kennedy Expressway and Berteau Avenue so that the new owner of the pub could obtain a tavern license. Moratoriums must cover a minimum two-block area, and when a moratorium is lifted, it cannot be reinstated for at least a year.
However, the proposal is being delayed to allow the city Law Department to review the matter because that the moratorium covers portion of both the 39th and 45th wards, Laurino spokesman Manuel Galvan said. If the new owner applies for a new license instead of a transfer of the pub’s license, a zoning change would be required for the project.
Under the moratorium, new tavern licenses cannot be issued and existing ones can only be transferred to a family member or to an owner who submits a petition with the signatures of at least 51 percent of the registered voters who live with 500 feet of the site. Moratoriums generally do not affect restaurants.
The pub is in a two-story building at 4104 N. Pulaski Road that contains several storefronts and residential units. "It would be a net gain of zero liquor licenses in that area," Galvan said. "Old Irving and West Walker (neighborhood associations) were contacted, and none of them had a problem with Bill’s Pub."
Meanwhile, Brudder’s owner George Michael said that he is considering petitioning for a late-night liquor license but that the plan will not move forward without residents’ support.
"I am kind of isolated here," Michael said. "They tore down the building next to me. We have not had a fight inside the bar in 20 years. Even if I get it, it does not mean I would stay open until 4 a.m. It may be cost-prohibitive."
Under its current license, Brudder’s can stay open until 2 a.m., with a 3 a.m. closing time on Saturday nights, but a late-night license would extend those times by two hours. To obtain a late-night license, Michael would have to submit to the liquor commissioner a petition in favor of the change signed by more than half of the registered voters who live within 500 feet of the site.
Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that Arena opposes a late-night license for the site and that several neighborhood organizations are organizing against the proposal. "The signature requirement is not an easy hurdle," Brugh said.
The Old Irving Park Association urged residents in its April newsletter not to sign a petition supporting late hours because it is "a quality of life issue impacting all of us."
In 2013 the License Appeal Commission reversed an earlier finding that an individual believed to be associated with a previous establishment on the site, the Vibe Lounge, interfered with a city inspection. However, the commission upheld a 10-day license suspension in connection with the 2012 incident.
Michael also owned the Vibe, according to the commission.