Laura Maychruk, owner of Buzz Café, 905 S. Lombard Ave. in Oak Park, is the first restaurant owner to apply for a new license in the village required to allow patrons to bring their own liquor, wine or beer to drink with meals.
The new ordinance requires restaurateurs to pay a $500 fee to the village, along with a one-time $250 application fee. They also must send employees through a state-certified alcohol server training program and get liability insurance. BYOB licenses require businesses to serve only between the hours of noon and 11 p.m.
Business owners also must appear before the Liquor Control Review Board, a citizen commission in the village, for approval for the license.
Maychruk, whose restaurant has allowed diners to bring in their own alcohol for about 19 years, said applying for the license, paying the village application fee, sending her employees to the alcohol training program and getting managers fingerprinted set her back about $1,000.
She will appear before the Oak Park Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to receive the BYOB license.
Asked why she did not want to apply for a full liquor license, Maychruk said she employs teenagers, which would preclude her from getting such a license. Liquor licenses are more expensive, too, she said.
“It’s just not that kind of place; it’s not a bar,” she said.
She said that only about two tables a week bring their own bottles.
Maychruk said now is trying to figure out how to recoup the money she spent on the license and other costs. She might hold BYOB date nights with specials to attract new business.
Businesses that had been allowing BYOB received a cease-and-desist letters from the village last year, notifying them that they were not allowed to offer BYOB at their establishments.
Two village trustees, Deno Andrews and Simone Boutet, voted against the ordinance, which was approved last May.
Andrews said at the time that requiring businesses to pay for a BYOB license is “government overreach.”
“I think this is a somewhat well-thought-out solution that doesn’t have a problem,” Andrews said. “I’m not aware of any BYO issues that have come up in the village in recent times.”