Beer Shop in doghouse over pet policy

Village ordinance says, "No dogs allowed"

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

An Oak Park bar with a proclivity for pooches has been ordered by the village to put visits from Fido on hold until the Board of Health can determine whether dogs should be allowed to enter a locality where food and beverages are consumed.

Beer Shop, 1026 North Blvd., has encouraged customers to bring their dogs to the craft-beer drinking establishment since it opened its doors in 2015 and has held multiple dog-friendly events like the "Puppy Paw-ty!" in 2016 — a birthday party for Beer Shop "regular" Roxy the beagle.

In 2017, Beer Shop also promoted events like "Puppies 'N' Pints," which contributed 10 percent of sales to the Animal Care League, and "Santa & Me! Featuring 6 Mutts Chicago," giving patrons the chance to bring their dogs in for a complimentary photo with Santa Claus.

The business has run afoul of the ordinance prohibiting dogs in a bar for years with no complaints and customers seem to love it. More than a dozen testimonials on the Beer Shop's Facebook page note the open-door dog policy as among a favorite aspect of the bar.

"Unpretentious and dog friendly," one testimonial states. Another notes: "My dog gets to join us at the bar which is awesome!"

Social media presence notwithstanding, there is a dark underbelly to this puppy paradise.

In early January, a patron reported the business to the Oak Park Department of Public Health, telling the agency they witnessed one of Beer Shop's four-legged patrons urinate on a carpet in the establishment.

Once the complaint was filed, the village was compelled to act, according to Health Department Director Mike Charley, who directed Beer Shop owner Anthony Compaglia to block all dogs at the door until the Board of Health reviews the matter.

"We had a conversation and [Compaglia] agreed to not allow dogs until we could figure this thing out," Charley said.

Compaglia did not return calls requesting an interview.

He has, however, made a formal request to the village to adopt an ordinance that would allow the pups back in the establishment.

The Oak Park Board of Trustees referred the matter to the Board of Health for review at its March 5 meeting. The Board of Health will review Compaglia's proposal and research how other municipalities have approached the issue, Charley said.

He said it is the first time in 14 years at the village that he remembers a complaint about animals being in a food and beverage establishment.

Trustees had mixed reactions to the canine controversy.

Trustee Simone Boutet, who mentioned the issue at the March 5 meeting, noted that the business does not serve food — patrons can, however, bring their own or have food delivered. "I think we should let [businesses] succeed to the most extent possible," she said in a telephone interview. 

Trustee Dan Moroney said he might support having a few establishments that allow dogs, but he couldn't back making it the norm for all dining establishments.

"We're Oak Park; we're not some funky college town; we're not Haight-Ashbury," he said.

Trustee Andrea Button said she wanted to learn more about the ordinance banning dogs: "I'm not sure the law is founded on fact as one would be led to believe. It's worth exploring whether it really is a safety issue."

Trustee Deno Andrews, who served on the Board of Health for six years, said he has a different perspective because of his allergy to dogs.

"I like a place where you can go into and there's a dog hanging around; it's cool to allow a place to do that, but at the same time 15 percent of people in the U.S. are allergic to cats or dogs, so whose rights are to be protected more, the dog owner or the patron who wants to go in free of allergens?" he said.


Reader Comments

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Vicki May from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2018 9:55 PM

Really? Dogs and cats have been frequenting European food establishments for centuries and I don't see an epidemic forming. The next time a toddler walks through human vomit on the sidewalk then puts their shoes on the seat my butt will hit next, I'm going to ask the health dept to ban children from all establishments with chairs. Let's be serious, most of the disgusting behavior in bars is human. Dogs are much cleaner than we are. I say ... let the germ times roll! We'll all be better off for it.

German Chavez from Oak park  

Posted: March 18th, 2018 12:37 AM

My dog... Her name is Yimba, a beautiful Labrador retriever that loves to go to Beer Shop. She lives in my house and she is always with my wife while cooking, she is al around our house and we haven't found any unhealthy issue with her coexisting in our environment, so to any dog hater that hours to beer shop, please avoid going there. OP is dog friendly!

Jay Hoppie from Oak Park  

Posted: March 17th, 2018 3:31 PM

Though I understand why the BoH wants to look at the matter, I really hope this is resolved quickly. I feel strongly that a bar that chooses to should be able to admit dogs as long as that bar does not serve food. One of the advantages of living in a relatively small municipality like Oak Park is that the government should be flexible and agile enough to craft regulations that its citizens desire. It certainly seems like there is support behind this business being allowed to admit dogs, so let's do it. As the article mentions, there has not been an issue in years that Beer Shop has been open, so it seems unlikely that there is actually a public health risk. If Oak Park officials cannot resolve this simple issue quickly, I have to question their commitment to actually listen to their citizens.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 17th, 2018 9:37 AM

@ Mike Hanline: Sorry Mike, you don't want dogs in bars because all dogs look good at closing time.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 16th, 2018 9:31 PM

Mike: Good one!

Hilde Edler Souweine  

Posted: March 15th, 2018 10:19 AM

I wish I had heard about this place before! I might have gone, because I would enjoy an atmosphere that includes dogs even though I am a cat owner.

Marty Bracco  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 6:02 PM

I've been going to the Beer Shop with our dog since it opened. While admitting ignorance of a blanket VOP ordinance banning dogs, I assumed that there was an exception made, since there have always been dogs. There should be a (very) quick solution...create an exception to the ordinance. No need for more study, Beer Shop has successfully allowed dogs for over a year, with no incidents save one. Publicize its dog-friendly status, and let the market decide.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 4:09 PM

Why even have a law banning dogs from bars? Criminals are just going to bring their dogs into bars anyway, while the rights of lawful and responsible dog owners are trampled upon.

Dale Jones  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 3:40 PM

The article says "The business has run afoul of the ordinance prohibiting dogs in a bar for years." This means that the owners of the bar are in violation of the law. I don't personally have a problem with dogs in a bar, but I do have a problem with people not following the law. People in Oak Park and River Forest seem to have the attitude that laws don't necessarily apply to them if they are inconvenient. Other examples include obeying stop signs, red lights and one way streets when riding there bicycles, keeping their dogs on a leash, stopping in their cars for stop signs or before turning right on red. If the ordinance is not needed, repeal it, don't ignore it.

Heinz Schuller from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 3:04 PM

So a trustee who doesn't like dogs focuses village government resources on a business that's been a great part of the Oak Park community and customers with dogs. Because one person complained. Great. How 'bout we be a bit more Pawnee, and a little less Eagleton?

Chi Lisa  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 11:04 AM

How about this: if you're allergic, don't go to that establishment, simple, right? Anyplace allowing dogs is also taking the change of losing the amount of the population that is allergic or afraid of dogs. Let them be. Also, SHAME on that person who reported this, stupid people should be banned from all establishments.

Ben Nissen from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 10:30 AM

It's one of the best reasons to visit the Beer Shop! If it's a concern over health risks?"is it riskier than the beer itself? Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and we're talking about dog allergies? How arbitrarily safe do we intend to make our communities? I've smelled human pee in other businesses (or the CTA). Should we ban the customers? Keep the dogs! Keep Oak Park interesting!

Tad Wefel  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 10:04 AM

Carpet? Where's the carpet in Beer Shop? It's hardwood floors wall to wall. Did the complainer mean to say toupe?

Tyler Schofield from Forest Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 9:07 AM

I stopped going to bars in Forest Park because of their video gambling chicanery. Now, my money and sales taxes go to Oak Park, mostly by way of the Beer Shop, because I can bring my dog. Oak Park has an opportunity to make an easy, painless, business friendly decision. For once I'd hope they embrace the opportunity.

Leonard Grossman  

Posted: March 14th, 2018 6:18 AM

C'mon, Demo. There are plenty of other places to stop for a beer in Oak Park. It wasn't that long ago that ago was dry.

Paul Abella from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 11:55 PM

the Beer Shop is one of the places that makes Oak Park special. I hope the Village Board understands that and votes accordingly.

David Montgomery from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 9:18 PM

I guess the dog lovers can now ask for the beer that smells like dog pee... with a straight face...and be served "something"... how progressive!!!

Mark Glenn  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 8:20 PM

I'm guessing the person that complained is one of the people that bring their adorable kids and strollers in and then spend the entire time asking the bartenders "for tasters" and "what tastes like Stella?" and then ignore their kids and let them run around while they spend the entire time on Instagram and text sending pictures about how hilarious it is that they brought their child into - wait for it - a BAR!!!!! Get it?!?!?! They're still cool!!!! No drop in Dad/Mom bonafides!!!!

Barbara Moline from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 6:05 PM

Yes for dogs. If you don't like dogs, go somewhere else. Hardly a health issue.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 5:26 PM

How can a dog pee on a carpet if there is no carpet? Setting that point aside, let the pooches in. If you don't like dogs, don't go. I'd rather be around dogs drinking a beer and talking to members of community than Disneyland. Oak Park is great because we do things differently. We have trustees and commissions staffed by humans because it takes a human to know when to bend a rule and when to enforce it. How we answer the question will say a lot about who we want to be as a Village. Because Deno's allergy argument gives me a rash.

David Montgomery from Oak park  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 5:00 PM

Sounds like the dog who peed on the carpet was over served...better to not have patrons peeing on carpets... can you fix that ?

Mike Hanline  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 4:27 PM

They don't prepare or serve food onsite. As usual, all it takes is one Buzz Killington to ruin a good thing for everybody else. Ban the patron who made the call, not dogs.

Nora Sanchez  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 4:13 PM

Haight-Ashbury...sounds like it was a groovy place.

Michelle Jensen  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 3:44 PM

I am all for dogs at the Beer Shop. One owner wasn't paying attention, call them out. There isn't a kitchen, the dogs aren't licking taps. The Beer Shop has never hidden the fact that they chose to be dog friendly, so if you don't care for dogs, don't patronize them. ps. I've seen children do worse, should they ban children?

Shannon Brodie from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 13th, 2018 2:54 PM

Most brewerys throughout the Chicago metro area don't serve food, and allow dogs, many just have an on leash policy. Same thing for Colorado. I've visited dosens of dog friendly establishments with my dog and they are wonderful. If you are allergic to dogs or don't like them, go to a different bar. We live in the Midwest, there might be more that one bar to choose from... If you don't like dogs in the beer shop, go somewhere else and stop trying to ruin a cool place for everyone.

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