Are liquor laws too strict in Oak Park?

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

The Village of Oak Park is curious about whether its liquor restrictions are a little too tight and will ask residents for their input later this month.

Officials say entrepreneurs have expressed interest in opening a brew pub here, and some village trustees have asked whether bars or liquor stores could have a place in Oak Park. None of those businesses are currently allowed, so the community is trying to determine whether those rules should be loosened.

The village board first asked staff to look closer at local liquor laws last summer. In August, Oak Park invited local restaurant owners to give their thoughts on the current climate.

From that sparsely attended hearing last year, the village fashioned a couple of changes to the rules, while keeping most things the same. Changes include allowing more than one packaged liquor license per business district (outside of downtown Oak Park) and allowing people to have a beverage in outdoor dining areas without buying food.

Restaurant owners urged the village to keep the hours for serving alcohol the same, and to continue prohibiting stand-alone bars.

"At this point, we didn't see a real strong push from the restaurant community, saying we should also open bars in Oak Park," said Village Clerk Teresa Powell.

The hearing is scheduled for April 26, 7:30 p.m., at village hall, 123 Madison. Residents can also submit written comments on the proposed changes to by May 15. Powell expects the village board to take a look at the new rules in July or June, and changes could be in place by August.

Reader Comments

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Posted: April 16th, 2011 8:38 AM

Oak Park doesn't even like to party.

Matt from Oak PArk  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 7:15 AM

I feel that the careful lossening of the liquor laws in Oak Park in certain established business areas would be a benefit to the community. My wife and I frequently go to Forest Park or Chicago after dinner to have a drink and when we do stay in Oak Park we find ourselves more often than not at Poor Phils. Some additional options would be nice and I feel a brew pub or beer garden would do very well here.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: April 14th, 2011 4:52 PM

CORRECTION: The service of alcohol is to be subsidiary to the service of food, except as noted where there is a lounge area. Sorry for the prior misstatement...

Teresa Powell  

Posted: April 14th, 2011 4:50 PM

The current liquor ordinance requires alcohol served at restaurants to be subsidiary to service of alcohol. Food is to be served with alcohol except where restarants have a lounge area. Please come to the public hearing April 26 if you have comments on these issues!

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 14th, 2011 1:28 PM

Absolutely yes.


Posted: April 14th, 2011 1:06 PM

The liquor situation never hurt the madison ave in forest park.

epic lulz  

Posted: April 14th, 2011 11:54 AM

The proposed changes are pretty minor, and are meant more to protect existing businesses than encouraging new businesses. The changes can be viewed here:

Jay Hoppie from Oak Park  

Posted: April 14th, 2011 11:09 AM

Is there a specific law in place that would prevent a brew pub from opening up? As long as it serves food (like most brewpubs do) it should be fine, right?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 14th, 2011 12:12 AM


Tad Wefel  

Posted: April 13th, 2011 11:36 PM

Downtown Oak Park has the perfect frame-up for an Irish brew-pub, a German Bier Garten, many other festive fun places!! We need a reason not to go down Madison Ave. in Forest Park and give them our disposable income! There is a whole legion of sports fans BEGGING for some place to watch the Packers crush the Bears. A sports bar down there would be humming!! Look at Lincoln Park in Chicago--why does every young professional live there to start? Because its where people meet! And have fun!!

Tad Wefel  

Posted: April 13th, 2011 11:30 PM

Yes to liquor law loosening!! The fastest growing segment of retail is restaurant spending. Restaurants depend on liquor for a large percentage of sales. Done correctly this could be the retail shot in the arm the downtown needs to create some LIFE down there. The sense of place is already there with the huge investment on Marion street. But its dead there after 7:00 PM. Keep it going. Get people down there!! Give people a reason to come here when they have the time in the evenings!!

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