Oak Park Board of Trustees might reconsider BYOB fees

First license and associated costs run restaurateur over $1,200


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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved its first license to a restaurant under its new BYOB (bring your own bottle) ordinance, and now it's considering reining in the cost for restaurant owners.

Laura Maychruk, owner of Buzz Cafe, 905 S. Lombard Ave., was the first restaurateur in Oak Park to receive a BYOB license, with a unanimous vote from the board of trustees. Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb was not present.

Trustee Andrea Button, who also serves as Oak Park Liquor Commissioner, asked Maychruk at the Jan. 28 board meeting about the process of applying for the license.

Maychruk said she took issue with the level of insurance required for the license, noting that the insurance requirement is typically "for someone who actually has liquor on site and is responsible for distribution of it" as opposed to a BYOB restaurant where employees are just monitoring alcohol consumption.

Maychruk added that she was "not happy about the fees" associated with the license. It cost her about $1,140 to get the license – that's $500 for the annual license, a $250 application fee, $125 for Illinois Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) for employees and $265 to fingerprint managers.

"Of course, we can't recoup that necessarily, because we can't charge for it," she said.

Trustee Dan Moroney said that although he voted in favor of the new license fee last year, he now felt it was "onerous" for restaurateurs and suggested reducing it to $100 annually.

Trustees Deno Andrews and Simone Boutet agreed with reducing the fee, with Boutet suggesting it be removed completely.

Andrews said his support for the license "is no way an endorsement for us doing this to business owners."

"You will have to do probably $10,000 in sales, maybe more, to make back this amount of money," he said.

Button said the issue on the table was whether to approve the BYOB license and not the structure of the BYOB ordinance.

"I think we have to limit the conversation to that whether or not we approve the license, and if we want to use that as a springboard to the board to bring it back to discuss the language of the ordinance itself, I think that's absolutely reasonable, but that's a separate conversation," Button said.

Village Attorney Paul Stephanides said the ordinance could not be amended at that night's meeting, because it was not properly noticed and would constitute a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

"My concern is, if we take this up later, then Laura has to foot the bill," Boutet said, suggesting that any adjustment to the fee be retroactive, so Maychruk could be reimbursed.

* This article was corrected to identify Andrea Button as Liquor Commissioner.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Robert Milstein  

Posted: February 2nd, 2019 4:57 PM

Across the govt., cuts are not going to solve the issue. IF each dept has $0 to start...justifies what they need. Some departments may shave off 15%, while others only 7%.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2019 1:15 PM

This is the confusion we get when Trustees start messing into things they should leave alone. Take all this energy and apply it to figuring out how each department of the local government could be run with 10% less in funding. One less person. Deferring spending for one extra year. And so. When we say we want less spent on taxes, it does not mean we want more fees.

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2019 11:39 AM

Dear Jen: The answer is money. Bring your BYOW Bring Your Own Water; BYOC Brung Your Own Coffee ...if they could tax it they would. WYOO Writing You Own Opinion... May be taxed...but only in Oak Park...because we are known for having a lot of our own opinions!

Jen Purrenhage  

Posted: February 1st, 2019 11:07 AM

I'm puzzled by all of this. Does the law require any of this? I support everyone paying their fair share to keep the kind of services we love, but business doesn't get any advantage from BYOB. It's a benefit for me, the customer. Wouldn't it make more sense to have patrons pay a fee? Why the business? They aren't even a middle man here (unless they're testing whatever I bring in to their establishment for proof and ingredients or something.) Adults have the right to drink stuff we buy and if the restaurant is ok with that - why the permit? I don't get it.

Johanna Brocker from River Forest  

Posted: February 1st, 2019 5:12 AM

Oak Park Policy. 1. tax homeowners to death...or they are forced to move... 2. tax restraunant owners to death...or until they go out of business. 3. Have the taxed to death homowners pay higher restaurant costs to the taxed to out of business restaurant owners.

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2019 11:05 PM

First FOIA process changed and then changed back to the original format; then BYOB ordinance passed and unintended consequences pop up ...again. Critical thinking caps ordinance needed!

Marty Strode  

Posted: January 31st, 2019 7:47 PM

What a SHOCKER, OAK PARK Charges for everything else!!!!

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 31st, 2019 6:19 PM

Trustee Moroney: Duh!

David Montgomery  

Posted: January 31st, 2019 5:31 PM

It makes me wonder, do the Trustees actually evaluate the impact of laws before they pass them? It seems like very little actual research on the impacts on actual people or business is considered before a bill is passed. It does seem like the Ringling Brothers Clown Car has unloaded at Village Hall.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: January 31st, 2019 5:09 PM

As I recall, when I was Clerk no license was needed for BYOB under state law, although restaurateurs were not allowed to charge an uncorking fee. I wonder if state law has changed to require this.

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