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.
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