Oak Park loosens liquor law for brunch

Amendments bump drinking up by two hours

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Oak Park used to be known as the place "where the saloons stop and the churches begin." A quick stroll down Lake Street and you'll see that's changed.

It's about to change again with a shift in the liquor law that will allow alcohol to be served earlier on weekends and holidays.

The turn-of-the-last-century culture shift that made Oak Park a dry town for decades didn't change until the early 1970s. Philander's, which opened in 1979, was the first standup bar since the early prohibitionists shut down the village's drinking establishments. After Philander's, the trend spiraled.

The mid-'80s brought a more casual spot to grab a drink and a meal — Poor Phil's, owned by local legends Dennis Murphy and his wife Bunny (Kathleen).

The hometown restaurant, known for its beer selection and seafood, has a patio that's typically packed on a summer weekend.

The update being passed through the village relates to the time restaurants can begin serving alcohol. Currently, the local ordinance prohibits establishments from serving before 11 a.m., but the village board passed the first motion Monday needed to bump that time back to 9 a.m.

Murphy said the concept of brunch isn't just about going out for family time or on Mother's Day, it's a new pastime that is gaining in popularity — particularly in the city. Murphy said the change will be good for local restaurants who want to bring in a bigger crowd.

"The [11 a.m.] time hasn't prevented us from doing anything," Murphy said, as his loyal customers come whether or not they can have a drink. But he's had a lot of requests from people. "It's just a nice little enhancement."

It also keeps Oak Park's breakfast establishments competitive with neighboring towns like Forest Park, which, according to Murphy, allows alcohol earlier.

"We get the remark a lot," Murphy said about people wanting to have a bloody mary, mimosa, and other alcoholic drinks with their brunch. "But it's not a deal breaker."

The time change was on the village board's non-discussion portion of the agenda and was passed without question. Procedurally, it will require one more vote, but soon Murphy and other restaurateurs will be able to satisfy those inquiring customers.

"Let's get with the times here," Murphy said. "Brunch is gaining in popularity. Our market here in Oak Park and close by calls for brunch. It's a routine thing. It's an every-weekend thing."

When officially approved, certain restaurants with the proper liquor license, like Poor Phil's, will be able to serve alcohol at 9 a.m. on weekends, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Mike from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2013 8:13 PM

It's about time. Welcome to the 21st century Oak Park.


Posted: June 20th, 2013 11:51 AM

And this might be a Del Marre baseball jersey which appears to have ghosted text on the back that reads "GOOD FOOD", which would jive with the ad in the yearbook and the fact this was this guy's grandfather's jersey. Some of you OP old timers can confirm. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3200/5710953846_d022fbc3fe_o.png


Posted: June 20th, 2013 11:48 AM

There was a Del Marre in Westchester as well. One of the owners died in 2010. Here's an ad from the 1943 yearbook: http://www.e-yearbook.com/sp/eybb?school=20281&year=1943&startpage=213&hilight=1

Mike Nevins  

Posted: June 20th, 2013 10:47 AM

Dan, yes, we ARE old (I'm now 53) - but are we any wiser?!? And, like your family, the Nevinses could NEVER afford to eat at a restaurant like that! But, fwiw, we were quite happy to reside in our south side ghetto home - was it ever an eye-opener making friends at OPRF from north OP and RF!?!

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal Wednesday Journal Employee

Posted: June 20th, 2013 9:21 AM

Mike, we're really old. Yes it was Del Mar's though I think if had some fancier spelling -- Del Marre's maybe --which in my childhood I always took to be French. With six kids however we never went to restaurant's so I don't know what kind of food it was. Twizzlers for everyone!

Mike Nevins  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:48 PM

@Unfortunately. Umm, i have the first "guess" for Del Mar's - the twizzler would then be mine. But in your spirit, I agree that Dan should share it with some one more worthy, important and precious than I!


Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:33 PM

Brian, if I recall correctly, it was Captain Bob's Neptune Cove - which was preceded by Del Mar's. I remember being a little kid and my grandfather and parents "pulling off" the drum stick and handing it to me as we walked to the Maze Library. Dan, you can give my twizzler to your daughter or wife!

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:00 PM

wasnt it neptunes cove?

Mike Nevins  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 7:39 PM

@Dan. I know that it was a restaurant and it had a "fancy" drawing of something like a chicken or turkey being presented to a table on the eastern wall. I just can't remember the name - but your twizzler prize didn't ask for the name - just "what that place was before....." It was a family sit-down restaurant. Hmm, Del-Mar's now comes to mind. Do I win the twizzler?


Posted: June 19th, 2013 4:44 PM

@Matt- you doubled down on your theory and you are wrong. Again. Did you read Ray Johnson's comment at all?

Matt on Madison  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 2:15 PM

Really everyone comes to defend the first law thats passed benefits his restaurant. I'm sure if Forest Park passed a law benefiting alarm companies everyone would say its just a coincidence. Eveb if this was on the books to be brought up its just bad taste that this is the first new ordinance changing in his administration.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal Wednesday Journal Employee

Posted: June 19th, 2013 11:44 AM

My recollection is that Captain Bob's actually sort of blew up in the middle of the night. That place was very popular for a while and Captain Bob was a hoot. Free Twizzler to anyone who remembers what that place was before it was a seafood joint.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 11:34 AM

The first restaurant liquor license was for La Majada Restaurant on Harrison Street. Prior to that, Philander's (now Barclays) held a hotel liquor license.

Jim from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:46 AM

Poor Phil's may not have been the first "stand up bar" in Oak Park. Captain Bob's Neptune Cove at Ridgeland and Harrison had the first liquor license, if I recall correctly. Burnt down a long time ago. Don't remember if the layout had a "stand up bar."

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:34 AM

@ Matt....this change began last year with a review of our Liquor Ordinance. Anan did not drive this change, and recused himself from the vote.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:34 AM

Matt, First "he" doesn't get to vote on any liquor issues, so "he" had no part in this ordinance change. The other five present voted "yes." Second, here is a link to the history of this agenda item. As you can see, it dates back to Sept 2011, initiated by Dennis Murphy of Poor Phil's, and recommended by the Liquor Control Review Board at that time. In other words, it should have been changed almost two years ago. http://oak-park.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=4&meta_id=11890

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:31 AM

This new law is not only bipartisan, it's clear it was championed by someone who understands BUSINESS. How many OPer's, like me, would head to FP on football Sundays in the fall, or college hoops weekend games? I'd rather spend my money in Oak Park, and now I can. I trust the adults in town to make responsible individual choices regarding alcohol consumption. Nice job, trustees. Keep it up.

the guy asking you for change from Lake Street  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 10:05 AM

Sometimes i drink a little bit of King Cobra with my brunch

Marty from OP  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 8:51 AM

Funny, I see it as benefitting any Oak Park restaurant that wants to compete with neighboring towns. And that is non-partisan politics.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: June 19th, 2013 8:31 AM

I find it awesome that the first law passed under the new regime benefits his restaurant which opens at 9:00 on Sundays. Lady s and Gentleman thats politics.

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