River Forest restaurant patrons will now be allowed to bring their own beverages and be served alcohol with food outdoors after the village board voted last week to approve these and other updates to the liquor control ordinance.
The first beneficiary of the more open approach will be Jesse Haggar, who, with his family, owns Oak Park’s LaMajada Mexican restaurant. Haggar has applied for a liquor license for La Majada Express in the location previously occupied by Annie’s at Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue. Haggar could not be reached for comment Monday.
The liquor license regulations have not been revised since they were created in the early 1990s, when the village renounced its “dry” policy, according to a memo to the board from Assistant Village Administrator Mike Braiman. The changes, he said, will help maximize economic development and bring the rules in line with state regulations.
“By today’s standards the liquor rules are cumbersome, restrictive and, in general, not business friendly,” the memo said.
Under the changes adopted May 14, liquor license classes will be broadened so restaurants of any size can serve liquor. A class will also be created for “bring your own beverage” (BYOB). The old rules required restaurants to have a minimum of 750 square feet and a seating capacity of at least 35, the memo said. As a result, properties existed in the village that might be suited for a restaurant but could not serve liquor.
A Class 1 license — which has not been held since 2006 when Pronto Roma closed in the current Noodles and Company space — is intended for La Majada Express. La Majada has been in business in Oak Park since 1976.
Bringing the village up to speed with neighboring Oak Park and Forest Park, alcohol can be served and consumed outdoors as long as food is purchased along with it. That will be allowed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday — beginning at noon on Sunday — the board decided.
Other changes include allowing retailers to sell “build your own” six-packs and allowing restaurants to sell packaged alcohol with carry-out food orders. A liquor license can also be issued to a restaurant within 100 feet of a church as long as liquor is not the principal business of the restaurant. The current ordinance prohibits that altogether.