The Evanston City Council, which recently urged the federal government to be more welcoming toward immigrants, found itself turning down an immigrant for a restaurant liquor license Monday because of a city ordinance that is more restrictive than state law.

The city ordinance requires that liquor license holders by U.S. citizens, even though state liquor laws are more permissive, letting someone who is a legal permanent resident also qualify for a liquor license.

As a result, the city turned down the application of Smithprin Chantarangkul, the new owner of Ruby of Siam at 1125 Emerson St., to renew the restaurant’s liquor license, because he a permanent resident, but not a citizen.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said the Administration and Pubic Works Committee wants city staff to investigate the possibility of making the city ordinance match state law.

Mayor Lorraine Morton, who also serves as the city’s liquor commissioner, said that another option would be for the owner to set up a corporation to hold ownership of the restaurant, and that the corporation could apply for the liquor license, avoiding the citizenship issue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. That is so ludicrous.
    That is so ludicrous. Perhaps it is the reason, in addition to the cost of the license, that so many ethnic restaurants do not have a liquor license. I hope that ordinance is revised ASAP; there is no reason for this type of discrimination. Furthermore, both the city and restaurateur lose out on potential revenue.

  2. This unfair and
    This unfair and discriminatory ordinance needs to be changed immediately.

    1. A silly law. Let’s change it.
      I certainly agree that the rules are stupid and should be changed. But enough about zoning regulations….this is about liquor permits..

      While discrimination based on citizenship status is often legal, and sometimes makes sense, I see no benefit to limiting liquor licenses to citizens – just as I see no benefit to other xenophobic and intolerant policies, like protecting ‘local’ businesses by keeping outsiders out, preserving the ‘traditional culture of this city’ (from ECRD website) or protecting “this city’s historical place, its culture and its unique contribution to the history of the north shore” (again, from ECRD website)

      Evanston should be a place that welcomes new residents – whether they are restaurant owners or condo dwellers – not an intolerant place full of old people who want things to be the way that they used to be or local businesses that prevent competition by keeping the ‘outsiders’ out.

      So council should change this law. If not, then maybe some lawn signs and a referendum are in order!

  3. Is this a problem business…?
    Have there been issues with drunken patrons swarming out of the Ruby of Siam? Are the neighbors in an uproar over criminal activity associated with the crowds hanging out in front of the business? (like, for instance, the Tally-Ho on Howard…?) Yeah, I didn’t think so.
    This is truly outrageous and hypocritical considering our city’s “don’t ask–don’t tell” immigration status policy.

  4. evanston liquor law
    As a child of immigrants i cant believe that i pay such high taxes in a city that discriminates against people from other countries!! What is the logic that a person who is a legal resident, but not a u.s. citizen cannot have a liquor license in Evanston??? This regulation had to be made by some old white men, who wanted to keep all the business to themselves!! Probably if they could, they would also like to disqualify African-american people as well, but can’t figure out how to do it!!
    Get rid of this law immediately or else Evanston should stop perceiving itself as a “progressive, liberal” community!!

    Reply/Update:
    The immediate issue was resolved a few weeks after the story was written when the liquor license applicant incorporated his business and was granted the license he had sought. It seems the city ordinance has no barrier to corporations owned by non-citizens being liquor licensees.
    I don’t believe the ordinance provision about the citizenship of a sole proprietor owner has yet been changed.
    — Bill Smith

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