Serving alcohol, but no food, late at night could cost local businesses some money. For the past two years, the city council has looked to minimize disturbances at Downtown Naperville bars. In January, they passed an ordinance relieving a burden on local restaurants. It modified the Class B liquor license, letting them operate at night without serving food, if they got a late night permit. At the most recent meeting councilmen disagreed about what the price of that permit should be.
“There has to be some premium paid for the privilege of serving alcohol in the City of Naperville,” said Mayor George Pradel.
Pradel, who serves as liquor commissioner by state law, wanted bars and restaurants to pay $2,000 for the permit to pay for the police who monitor the downtown area. Lower commissions had approved a revenue neutral fee to pay for processing the permit application, a $50 cost.
“To now make it punitive, I don’t think is right,” said Councilman Steve Cherico. “That wasn’t the spirit of when we gave the direction to staff to get this thing written up.”
The new permit will allow restaurants to close kitchens after 9pm Sunday through Thursday and after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, eliminating a reduced menu requirement so restaurants can save on their kitchen staff costs.
Many of the councilmen disagreed with the high rate the Liquor Commission recommended, and decided to lower it to $200.
“We need to be fair to those businesses that are out there that are operating,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “They’re paying their fee now, and they can operate until we put this in how they see fit as long as they meet certain kitchen requirements.”
At Jimmy’s Grill in Downtown Naperville, owner Jim Bergeron says that the new late night permit, and the $200 fee, won’t really impact his business.
“That’s a big thing that most people need to realize, the late night permit is just separating the rights that we already have right now,” said Bergeron. “It doesn’t really change what a Class B license was, it just separates the permit.”
The next step, city council needs to officially change the law to reflect the new fee. They’re expected to do so at their next meeting. If passed, the new permits will take effect May 1st.
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