Residents express interest in allowing liquor store in Downtown Norwood Park
by BRIAN NADIG
About two thirds of the 38 residents at an Aug. 19 community meeting indicated through a hands vote that they would consider supporting a proposed liquor store at 6060 N. Northwest Highway if the owner agreed to a series of restrictions.
The store would be the first liquor store on Northwest Highway in Downtown Norwood Park, most of which is governed by a moratorium on new packaged liquor licenses.
The 3,500-square-foot store would be located in the northern half of the 6060 Plaza, whose southern portion is located in a “dry” precinct, where liquor sales are banned. The northern half, which is in a “wet” precinct, includes Mo Dailey’s Pub, an eatery and bar.
Alderman Mary O’Connor (41st) said that she would lift the packaged liquor moratorium for that stretch of Northwest Highway only if the store’s owner agreed to the restrictions requested by the community. O’Connor said that she will call a second community meeting on the issue after a proposed “plan of operation,” which would include the restrictions and which would become a condition of the store’s liquor license, is ready.
O’Connor said that “ma and pa” stores in Norwood Park have struggled to stay open due to a lack of foot traffic and that “whether you like it or not liquor is one of the things that brings foot traffic.” She said that when she knocks on doors in Norwood Park, residents tell her that they want to shop and eat “in the neighborhood and they don’t want to have to go to Edison Park.”
At the meeting, Sam Fakouri, owner of the proposed liquor store, said that the store would be similar to a wholesale operation open to the public, with merchandise being displayed on pallets, and that cigarettes would be sold. He said that ideally he would want the store to be open to 2 a.m. but that he would be open to the community’s recommendations on hours and the type of merchandise that would be sold.
O’Connor said that a closing time of around 10 p.m. would be more appropriate and that any plan of operation would include a ban on the sale of water pipes, which Fakouri sells at his Cellar liquor store at 3106 N. Harlem Ave. The pipes, which resemble some types of drug paraphernalia, are intended for hookah smoking.
Some residents suggested that the sale of single-serve beer containers of up to 40 ounces be prohibited and that the store offers a wide selection of wines and gourmet cheeses.
One man said that if the store does not adhere to the community’s wishes, it would fail because the customer base would be from the neighborhood. “If he is going to sell garbage, it won’t work,” he said.
During a vote taken by O’Connor, nine residents raised their hand in opposition to lifting the moratorium. One woman said that a second liquor establishment in the plaza would not be fair to neighbors who are dealing with noise problems from Mo Dailey’s, and others said that they wanted more family-oriented businesses in the area.
O’Connor said that her decision on whether to lift the moratorium will be based on the wishes of the residents. “The majority of the community is the deciding factor,” she said.
If the moratorium were listed, Fakouri would have to seek a special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals before he could apply for a liquor license. The board will consider factors, such as the impact of the establishment on adjacent properties.