Wild Noodles liquor license approved but sparks debate

A typically routine wine and beer license approval at the May 14 City Council meeting sparked a lively debate that also drew in Mayor R.T. Rybak.

The license in question was for Wild Noodles, 1221 W. Lake St., a new fast-casual restaurant franchise that opened in the CARAG neighborhood May 17.

CARAG neighbors have complained about traffic, noise and overconsumption problems in an area that has seen more new liquor licensees.

City Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward), the area’s representative, recommended license conditions that sparked the debate.

The most contentious condition would have required patrons of the restaurant to order a meal if they were going to consume alcohol at the restaurant.

The city requires most establishments serving liquor to have at least 60 or 70 percent of its revenues from food — a condition violated by a nearby restaurant, Tonic of Uptown, 1420 W. Lake St., which was recently fined by the city.

However, the city does not require that drinkers also dine.

Councilmember Barb Johnson (4th Ward) termed Niziolek’s condition "ridiculous." Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) said it would be impossible to enforce, and she didn’t want to set the precedent, given the existing food-liquor license rule.

However, Niziolek found support from Councilmember Gary Schiff (9th Ward). Schiff said, given residents’ livability concern and a gay-bashing instance attributed to alcohol consumption, there should be more care taken in handing out liquor licenses.

"We don’t want to kill the real estate values in Uptown just because we allowed it to become a big bar scene," Schiff said.

Rybak disagreed. He said that while officials need to be sympathetic to area residents, Niziolek’s condition overstepped the boundaries and was "loony."

Rybak and Council President Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) said they would look more broadly at the area’s liquor licenses, which the mayor termed a priority.

After the long debate, the Council approved Wild Noodles’ liquor license without the