Alderman favors plans for first liquor store in Norwood Park




by BRIAN NADIG

Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) is moving forward on a plan to open the first liquor store in Downtown Norwood Park.

"I want to fill a storefront that has been empty for 5, 6 years," Napolitano said at a Feb. 10 community meeting, which about 25 people attended at the Norwood Park fieldhouse, 5801 N. Natoma Ave. "The feeling I get is (the store’s owner) wants to be part of the community, not just a liquor establishment."

The 2,000-square-foot liquor store would open in a shopping plaza at 6054-56 N. Northwest Hwy. Napolitano plans to introduce an ordinance which would lift a moratorium on new packaged liquor licenses along a two-block stretch of Northwest Highway where the plaza is located.

A resident at the meeting expressed concern that the store would take business away from Ada’s Market and Deli, 6165 N. Northwest Hwy., which is the only establishment in Downtown Norwood Park to sell packaged liquor.

Bill Assimakopoulos, the owner of the proposed Wine and Spirits store, said that his business and Ada’s would complement each other, drawing customers to each other’s store. Assimakopoulos said that his store would have a much larger selection of liquor products than Ada’s, which is predominantly a grocery store, and that he would sell very few food items.

"I’m not going to go to war with you," Assimakopoulos told the owners of Ada’s, who were at the meeting. "I think it will be a nice fit. I want to be on good terms with you. I think we’re going to help you."

Napolitano said that having two retail liquor businesses so close to each other in Norwood Park would be no different than in Downtown Edison Park, where three businesses sell packaged liquor.

Assimakopoulos, who grew up on the Northwest Side and went to Taft High School, said that it will be about six months before the store could open. After the moratorium is lifted, he plans to apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special use permit.

Assimakopoulos has agreed to restrictions on the liquor license in an effort to address the concerns of residents. Napolitano said that the key restriction would be a closing time of no later than 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. Assimakopoulos also agreed to close by 10 p.m. on weekends if ordered by Napolitano due to problems once the store opens.

The agreement also would include a ban on selling high-gravity malt liquors, including Colt 45, Schlitz and Axe Head, and several brands of fortified wines, including Wild Irish Rose, Night Train and Italian Swiss. Also banned would be water pipes, individual tobacco wrapping papers and loose cigarettes.

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