The deal that brought legal booze to Evanston decades ago is about to be reconsidered. Aldermen this week indicated they’re ready to allow a bar that doesn’t serve food to open in the city.

The requirement that any establishment that serves booze also offer full restaurant food service was built into the 1970s vintage rules that ended Evanston’s run of more than a century as a dry community.

City officials then decided that requiring that food be available to sop up the liquor in patrons’ systems would cut down on the adverse effects of allowing booze into the long-time home of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

And that theory has held until World of Beer came along.

Fountain Square Building owner Ted Mavrakis has proposed opening a franchisee of the national chain that features a wide array of craft brews on tap in the building at 1601 Sherman Ave. downtown.

The franchise model involves letting patrons phone out for food to be delivered by other nearby restaurants, but no food service of its own.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, the city’s liquor commissioner, who had tried to shoehorn World of Beer in under existing rules, said she was surprised Monday night by the aldermanic change of heart.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, seemed to be speaking for other aldermen when she said, “We want the business and don’t mind the model, it just doesn’t fit in the current code.”

Tisdahl said today that she would ask city attorney Grant Farrar to draft provisions for a new liquor license class to fit the World of Beer model that would be “minimally disruptive” to the city’s traditional liquor rules.

The Liquor Control Review Board had been scheduled to hear two issues today.

One, a request from The Mather to permit installation of an automatic wine dispensing machine in its building at 425 Davis St., was postponed when no one from The Mather appeared.

The key question on that seemed to be how a machine could check that no one underage was being served, even in a retirement community.

The other issue, a review of recent ordinance violations at Evanston 1st Lquors, 1019 Davis St., was postponed, the mayor said, after the attorney for the liquor store said he hadn’t been aware of most of the reported violations and need more time to prepare.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. How about the wine bar?

    Does the wine bar that the city is financially subsidizing serve food? I can't find any mention of it but they must. I hope. Seems a bit odd otherwise.

    1. wine bar
      Yes the wine bar will serve food. Finger food stuff. Oh, sorry forgot to mention food will be served in brown paperbags to match how their serving their wine. Sorry couldn’t resist.

      1. Brown paper bags

        I can go down the street to the Fish keg and get a brown paper full of fish chips, I forgot thats is in chicago.  Maybe Ann can reopen the DQ – one of my children could get a million dollar loan to open it.  I tried of traveling up to Wilmette.

  2. Why can’t Mavrakis propose

    Why can't Mavrakis propose something that's legal?  That said, this idea is a lot better than some of his previous requests for exceptions.

  3. A drink without food? Imagine that!

    My dim recollection of the night the liquor ordinance passed the City Council and was signed into law is that we all (some aldermen, some City Council observors, and other regulars at the weekly City Council meetings)  retired for a celebration drink to the Orrington Hotel, which had license No. 1.  

    Because it was a hotel, it did not have to serve food in its bar. (It did serve food in its entirely separate dining room).  I believe the Holiday Inn (also considered to be in the "downtown district") received a similar license later.  All the rest of the purveyors of liquor (not in the "downtown district" and not hotels) had to comply with the "food" rule.  

    If my recollection is correct,  the idea that we can safely drink without a meal is not so novel.  But it will have  been a very long time in coming to other lively urban centers of Evanston.  Our  current "expand by one license at a time" rule ought to be an adequate safeguard to assure that this is a positive step for the city's economy and not harmful to our neighborhoods.

  4. How many more empty stores

    How many more empty store fronts must exist downtown before this (or, perhaps the next City Council) will start getting aggressive about bringing in business?

    The card store just went out of business, it's a shame.

    With each merchant that closes, our tax revenue is decreased and the likelyhood of filling the space becomes more bleak.

    It is time this council be held accountable – we can't wait until the next election! Do what is required to fill our Retail spaces and stop acting like you have a ton of money to spend, you're breaking the backs of the residents!

    1. How many more stores? Probably many

      When someone thinks about locating a busienss in Evanston they think about [among other things]:

      1. Is there enough business to survive.  With the way the city has killed off businesses over the years, probably yes since we lack about everything.

      2. Are taxes low or even reasonable.  Definitely NO and with the way the Council spends money they don't have, probably never will be.

      3.  Will the Council, zoning boards, and citizens given them a fair hearing and make decisions promptly.  Clearly NO.  They will stall every effort to move in or to make building/sign/etc. changes until you give up [and wasted large amounts of time and money].  There will be some citizens group that will protest all most any type of business that wants to locate.  Also expect the Council and other government groups will harass you with new regulations, inspections and in general anything that will allow you to be a functioning business.

      4. Will I be treated fairly.  Probably not.  The Council may even give a competitor a 'gift' to put a fence around their building, put up awnings, buy new equipment, etc..  The Council picks 'winners' and if you are not what they think of as a 'winner' your taxes will go to those they think are winners.

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