Community Food to turn into upscale liquor store
by BRIAN NADIG
The owner of Community Food and Liquor, 5530 N. Milwaukee Ave., is planning to convert the convenience store into an upscale liquor store with a wide variety of craft beers and wines, similar to his shop in Downtown Norwood Park.
Community Food owner Nick Patel and his attorney Gregory Steadman recently met with representatives of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association and the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce. Both groups have issued support letters for the project.
Association vice president and chamber director John Garrido said that residents living near the store received a letter from Steadman stating that a special use from the Zoning Board of Appeals would be sought to allow for the liquor store and asked the association to look into the matter. Currently the store sells liquor, but revenue from alcohol sales must be incidental to non-alcoholic sales.
"They very much want to be a good neighbor and work with us," Garrido said at the association’s Jan. 30 meeting. "They have made some assurances to renovate the place and make it upscale."
Association president Joe DiCiaula said that the project would not add another retail liquor outlet to the neighborhood since Community Food already sells alcohol.
Garrido said that Patel has agreed to remove a walk-up window next to the main entrance and to install new coolers and modern-looking signage, similar to the decor at his Norwood Park Wine and Spirits, 6056 N. Northwest Hwy. The shop is the first liquor store in Downtown Norwood Park in more than 50 years.
Patel also has agreed to make sure that the shop’s windows would not feature alcohol-related signage so passers-by would have an unobstructed view inside the store, Steadman said in a letter to the association. New flooring and lighting also are planned.
Garrido said that no complaints about Community Food have been filed with the city since Patel starting running the business 3 years ago. He said that Patel also has agreed to not sell liquor until after 9 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays and to complete the renovations within 2 years.
The store’s hours and a ban on the sale of certain items, including loose cigarettes and high-gravity malt liquors, would be included in a plan of operation which would be part of the store’s license.
Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that a scheduled Feb. 16 hearing on the special use request is likely to be deferred to allow more time for project details to be worked out.
Editor’s note: Publisher Brian Nadig, an officer with the chamber, abstained on to vote to support the project.