Whole Foods hopes to create a "sip and shop" experience in its new third store in Evanston that would let patrons cruise the aisles while drinking beer and wine.
The idea, discussed at a recent Liquor Control Board meeting, got a chilly reception from the city's liquor commissioner, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, and Whole Foods officials say they plan to hold off seeking approval for the plan until after they've had meetings this fall with community residents about the new store.
Noelle Wagner, store design and operations coordinator for the chain, said "sip and shop" is a concept already in use at the Whole Foods in the Lincoln Park and Sauganash neighborhoods of Chicago as well as at some other locations across the country.
She said there have not been any problems with over-consumption or under age-drinking at locations where the program is in effect.
The new Evanston store is scheduled to open in August 2015 in the former Dominick's market site on Green Bay Road.
The store plans also call for having a wine bar that would serve food and have a grill. Wagner said the plans could be modified to limit alcohol consumption to the bar area if the city preferred that, which is what's been done at a Whole Foods in Park Ridge.
Liquor Board member Dick Peach said he had no objections to the "sip and shop" concept, and board member Dave Skrosdzki said he thought it would work well in the Green Bay Road location.
But Mayor Tisdahl said she believed alcohol service should be limited to certain areas and that "sip and shop" would not be in line "with the values of Evanston residents."