Council committee approves extended liquor-store hours

After listening to the arguments of a number of liquor-store owners and a few community members, the City Council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee voted to once again allow liquor stores to remain open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The issue will now go before the full City Council. Last October, the Council passed an ordinance that allowed off-sale liquor stores to remain open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, two hours later than the previous mandated closing time of 8 p.m. and the same closing time as Fridays and Saturdays. But the ordinance expired on June 1, and since then liquor stores have been required to once again shut their doors by 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

John Wolf, owner of Chicago-Lake Liquors, told committee members that customers are confused about the change in hours. He would like to see the later closing time again and said if some businesses still want to close at 8 p.m., they have that choice.

&#8220To me, it's a matter of business decision rather than a matter of policy,” Wolf said.

The ordinance was originally changed to conform to more flexible state laws passed in 2005. Councilmember Ralph Remington (10th Ward) said the state statute required the ordinance to sunset before the Council could take any action to renew it, which prevented any kind of continuity in the hours of off-sale liquor stores. When the ordinance was passed last fall, some liquor-store owners expressed opposition because they felt that expanding their store hours would increase operating costs without substantially increasing sales.

Dean Rose with Broadway Liquor Outlet said during the public hearing that he was opposed to the extended hours six months ago but now supports them. He said the store picked up a noticeable amount of extra business traffic in those two hours, and residents didn't have to drive to neighboring communities that have later liquor-store hours when they wanted something after 8 p.m.

&#8220I think it should be up to the individual store owner,” Remington said. &#8220Some liquor stores want to remain open until past 8 p.m. and some don't. But I think they should have that right.”

Kari VanDerVeen can be reached at [email protected] and 436-4373.