The Oak Park village board served up several changes to local liquor laws on Monday. But trustees may not be done as they asked for a second round later this year.
Elected officials had asked the Liquor Control Review Board last year whether changes were needed to make it friendlier for businesses to serve alcohol locally. After a couple of hearings, the liquor board presented its proposed changes on Monday.
Those include letting restaurant patrons drink alcohol anywhere in an establishment without ordering food, allowing nonprofits to serve at performances, and green-lighting more than one packaged-liquor license in every village business district.
The liquor board added the provision that 60 percent of each restaurant's sales need to come from food, ensuring that liquor remains "subsidiary." Some trustees expressed hesitance about adopting the 60-40 rule, but liquor Commissioner John Lipic said the community seemed to shy away from no-food establishments.
"Oak Parkers, by and large, do not want pure bars. They still want restaurants that serve liquor, but they want some relaxation of the requirements," Lipic said.
Trustees still need to approve a final ordinance allowing the changes. Officials also gave the liquor board the go-ahead to explore several other revisions to liquor laws, which came up during recent hearings.
Possible shifts would include bumping the start time of liquor service to 9 a.m. on weekends, establishing a new liquor license for bed & breakfasts, and reviewing what it would take to allow a brew pub in Oak Park. The liquor board will also eye the possibility of letting restaurants close their kitchens a few hours early to save money, and permitting art galleries to serve wine and beer.
The Liquor Control Review Board plans to send a survey out to the public and hold a hearing at a yet-to-be-determined date.
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