Survey says residents want more alcohol in Oak Park

Hearing held Tuesday to gather further input

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Click here to see the survey results.

Should the Village of Oak Park loosen its liquor laws to allow for micro-breweries, drinks without food, and beverages at bed & breakfasts? Survey says ... most definitely.

The Downtown Oak Park Business Association released the results of an alcohol-related survey last week, which asked whether the village should be more lenient in regulating liquor. Some 832 people responded and, showed broad, and in some cases overwhelming, support for laxer laws.

About 90 percent said they're OK with Oak Park letting performance venues serve beer and wine. And 88.7 percent support the village allowing microbreweries and brew pubs to set up shop in town.

"I honestly am not surprised by any of these answers," said Pat Zubak, executive director of Downtown Oak Park. "They're what I've been hearing from the community and business owners over the past few years."

The majority of respondents also supported the idea of the village allowing patrons to order drinks at a restaurant without ordering food, more than one packaged liquor license in every business district, and alcohol service starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In the comment section of the survey, those against loosening liquor laws gave reasons such as Oak Park "becoming a 'party zone,'" "liver disease is not pretty," "I prefer tight controls on liquor," and increasing availability "will be bad for our youth." On the other side, those in favor argued that being more liberal could lead to economic growth, nightlife and attracting tourists to breweries.

Downtown Oak Park sent out the survey last month, hoping to drum up input ahead of a public hearing by the Liquor Control Review Board Tuesday to discuss possible liquor law changes, which was after Wednesday Journal's deadline.

Oak Park has been working for months to explore changing the laws. The village board held a first reading of a couple of proposed changes to its liquor ordinance, including eliminating the requirement that restaurants have a physically separate area for their bar. At the same time, trustees last month asked the liquor board to hold further hearings to determine whether the community wants to see even more easing of liquor laws, which brought about Tuesday's meeting.

Village Manager Tom Barwin, who has advocated for the village to ease up on alcohol, said he, too, wasn't surprised by the survey's results. With all the time people spend staring at their computers, he believes that pubs would help bring residents together to hangout. Barwin thinks the village has the resources to shut down anyone who disobeys the new laws.

"We need places where people can get together and socialize, and doing so over a glass of beer or wine is a fun way for people to do that," he said.


Downtown Oak Park Business Association survey results

Reader Comments

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Posted: July 12th, 2011 2:35 PM

Jacque, Why cant you and your friends hang out in OP now? There are bars to drink and get goofy at. What more do you need? All the extra tax revenue will be used up in extra police so its really just a break even proposition from a tax revenue side. Do people realize how much money it costs just to have a liquor license?

Kelly supporter from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2011 10:10 AM

I not only fully agree with Kelly, but I would go a step further and build walls around our village so the inebriated from our neighboring towns cannot drive thru our dry town.

Jacque H from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2011 7:52 AM

As a mid-twenty-something resident of Oak Park, I think this would be amazing and not only boost the local economy, but also make Oak Park a more desirable place to live for a wider age range. I know that many twenty-something professionals (like my friends) who work in further west exurbs, but still live in the city (even though Oak Park is a great option) because they think you have to go into the city to have a good time on the weekends. The Forest Park bar area is great, but it would also be


Posted: July 10th, 2011 2:02 PM

More booze=More Crime=More Cops

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2011 11:27 AM

My Great Uncle had a Saloon in Chicago. Did very well except for two minor delays. The Hay Market Riots and Prohibition. Nothing wrong with building up the alcohol business, and no need to try and control how much someone wants to drink. Revive Madison st. with Saloon's, restaurants, night clubs, and lets get this no smoking in public places repealed.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 10th, 2011 10:37 AM

I'm all in favor of making Oak Park more customer-friendly and expanding the tax base. And I think that there's little risk of it turning into Madison Street in Forest Park.


Posted: July 9th, 2011 7:04 PM

I think this is a good thing. It will take back a lot of customers that wander over to Forest Park, which may or may not be a good thing. That leads to my point. When the strict liquor regulations begin to recede, there should be a review process for any new business seeking a license. A process that would determine if the business was suitable for the Oak Park image, negating the demand prospects.

epic lulz  

Posted: July 9th, 2011 6:52 PM

@Taxpayer: there's a remote possibility that if you live beyond tomorrow, you will have more problems. Your next step is obvious.

Go booze...  

Posted: July 9th, 2011 2:50 PM

but this study is about as scientific as the time I drank whiskey a week straight for research purposes. I hear prohibitionists hate surveys, let alone computers.


Posted: July 9th, 2011 10:26 AM

The remote possibility of there being more problems is enough for me to think Oak Park has enough watering holes contributing to the tax base. FP is a perfect example of them trying to entice "drinkers" to come. The Ale House is the closest thing OP has to a "young drinking establishment". Spare me.

Sean Ristau  

Posted: July 9th, 2011 10:12 AM

@kelly- Great way to just jump to conclusion that something like this will cause nothing but problems. Infact it will lower your real estate taxes as it will create additional revenue for the village. Do your homework and don't post stupid uneducated comments.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: July 8th, 2011 5:18 PM

Taxpayer, thanks for clarifying your question. Journal staffers are encouraged to add comments that add information or correct misinformation related to either a story or a comment. You'll see Marty Stempniak doing that the most regularly. Journal staffers do not comment anonymously and should, whenever possible, use the Facebook Verified feature of the site to insure to our readers that they are hearing from one of our journalists. Dan Haley, publisher


Posted: July 8th, 2011 4:58 PM

..But not by a person who just drank a shot and a beer that is carrying a weapon.

Just Another OP Resident  

Posted: July 8th, 2011 3:05 PM

Jimbo: Why would I want to leave the confines of Oak Park to be assaulted? I can be attacked just as well right here at home.

Jimbo from oak park  

Posted: July 8th, 2011 2:42 PM

@Just another OP Resident don't you mean now you won't have to walk across Austin and get shot at?

Just Another OP Resident  

Posted: July 8th, 2011 11:57 AM

Great News! Now I won't have to walk across Austin Avenue to get a shot and a beer.


Posted: July 8th, 2011 11:24 AM

Isnt there plenty of places to get a drink now? Walk down to Lake and get a drink at multiple places.


Posted: July 8th, 2011 11:15 AM

Kelly - your extremity bodes well on this Friday morning. Making alcohol more readily available prevents people from having to "drive" to Berwyn or FP for a watering hole -- we will gladly walk a mile to Lake St. if new establishments take root. T-Minus 6 hours to happy hour - see ya at Fitzgeralds ;)


Posted: July 8th, 2011 9:38 AM

Do WJ staff ever comment on articles (this one or others) on using different names than their own?

OP Rez  

Posted: July 8th, 2011 9:24 AM

See you later Kelly! Enjoyed your extremely overreactive post though...

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: July 8th, 2011 9:11 AM

Taxpayer, what's your question specifically about Journal staff members commenting on this site? Or are you asking about our staffers commenting on other sites? Happy to respond when I understand the question more clearly. Dan Haley


Posted: July 8th, 2011 8:59 AM

Does the WJ staffers comment anonymously here or anywhere?


Posted: July 8th, 2011 8:55 AM

Our taxes will DEFINITELY skyrocket now since we'll be paying for MORE cops to catch all the DUI's that will be on our village's streets after this passes. Not to mention the hospitals will need more money now and greater tax breaks since they will become MUCH busier with alcohol related accidents and deaths. Yep, great move there OP! Way to drive residents OUT.


Posted: July 8th, 2011 8:52 AM

SAD. I for one won't continue paying these exorbiant property taxes to live in a neighborhood with a PACKAGE LIQUOR on the corner. If this passes, I'll start looking for the kind of village Oak Park WAS to move into and I will gladly pay THEIR TAXES instead of OP's.


Posted: July 7th, 2011 10:33 PM

Figures...I'm just leaving town and it looks like OP is going to cast off it's Victorian Blue Laws and join the 20th Century.

Graham Johnston from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: July 7th, 2011 4:28 PM

Hey Paul, and anyone else looking for the survey, here is a direct link to it on Downtown Oak Park's Facebook page,


Posted: July 7th, 2011 4:21 PM

I don't see a survey on the Facebook page, but I googled and found what looks like the survey this article is talking about. If you want to participate, the URL is:

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