Hookah lounge proposed for Milwaukee Ave. in Gladstone Park; proposal will be discussed at June 8 GPNA meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
A proposal for a 55-seat hookah lounge to open inside a former title loan office at 5762 N. Milwaukee Ave. will be discussed at the Thursday, June 8, meeting of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Kolping Society, 5826 N. Elston Ave. Representatives of Hookah 312 LLC are scheduled to make a presentation at the meeting.
The proposal is contingent on the issuance of a special use from the Zoning Board of Appeals, a quasi-judicial panel that acts independently of the City Council. About 10 years ago then-41st Ward alderman Mary O’Connor opposed a hookah bar for Harlem Avenue in her ward, but the board sided with the applicant and issued the special use.
The hookah lounge on Milwaukee would be located in an approximately 2,100-square-foot building, which was once home to a cleaners and most recently to a seasonal Halloween store for a few months. The triangle-shaped site, which borders Austin Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue and Ardmore Avenue, includes a parking lot for about 10 cars.
Under the proposal customers would have to be at least 21 years old.
The applicants have experience operating hookah establishments in Kyrgyzstan, which was once part of the Soviet Union. Hookah is an important part of the Kyrgyz culture, and Chicago has become home to a substantial Kyrgyz community, according to information project officials provided the association.
Hookah includes the use of a tobacco pipe with a flexible tube that draws smoke through water.
New tobacco licenses are prohibited for establishments located within 100 feet of an elementary school. The Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity School, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., is about a block from the proposed hookah bar site but falls outside the 100-foot restriction.
The association plans to make an “informed decision” on the proposal based on the information and input collected at June 8 meeting, the group’s newsletter said.