Liquor Here, There, And Everywhere In Naperville

Naperville is in a tight retail sales race with Schaumburg, and  Naperville finds itself in second place among Chicago area suburbs. Second place does not sit well with Naperville city officials, which, in part, is due to Naperville not having a regional shopping center as Schaumburg does.

Without the sales and tax revenue from a huge shopping mall, Naperville has to make up the difference from somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ opportunity comes from the category of restaurants and bars. Considering Naperville’s surge in sales and tax revenue from restaurants and especially liquor within the last decade, it’s just a matter of time before Naperville can claim to be the liquor capital of the Chicago suburbs.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder the mayor of Naperville Steve Chirico (also the liquor commissioner) requested and received the green light to add two seats to the liquor commission, increasing the total of members from seven to nine.  According to Chirico, he wanted the increase to ‘add more viewpoints’. If adding two creates more perspective which makes it better, it would seem that adding four more would make it twice as good, and adding another 20 would make the perspective crystal clear.

Considering liquor consumption in Naperville is increasing, a nine-member liquor commission has never been this large before, and it may never be this small again with increasing emphasis on adding liquor licenses in Naperville. If city officials can think of more ways to add liquor license categories, the sky is the limit for sales and tax revenue. Walmart’s unwritten motto is “you make it, we’ll sell it. Naperville’s motto could be “your brew it or distill it, we’ll sell and consume it”.

Naperville city council’s latest effort to overtake Schaumburg is an ordinance change allowing downtown sidewalk businesses to sell alcoholic drinks. Naperville’s creeping ordinance allows five downtown restaurants/bars to obtain a permit to sell liquor in front of their establishments. The ‘creeping’ factor means in time the five-limit will change to ten, which will change into 25, and then 50, and well, you get the idea.

Voting against allowing businesses to sell sidewalk-alcoholic drinks were council members Paul Hinterlong, Patty Gustin, and Rebecca Obarski. The vote was 5 to 3 in favor of the ordinance change, with Becky Anderson not present.

One of the stipulations is that it will be the restaurants and bars responsibility to make sure pedestrians have five feet of sidewalk space available for passage. In addition to all the equipment police officers need to do their job, they will now need a handy-dandy tape measure.

Imagine trying to navigate, with your children while carrying shopping bags, through downtown Naperville, or someone using a walker next to a family member attempting safe passage around plates of chicken wings and beers, or worse yet, someone in a wheel chair trying to avoid rolling off the curb into oncoming traffic. Personal injury attorneys are celebrating.

Naperville city officials are determined to be number one. If they can’t overtake Schaumburg this year in liquor sales and tax revenue, they definitely can do it with the number of attorneys on staff defending law suits.

Show 5 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    It takes nine people to figure out how and where to grant liquor licenses in Naperville? Our government fought the entire second world war with less on their war board.

    We make up for our lack of sales revenue by then arresting the customers for DWI after they purchased and consumed the goods instead of patrolling for the real crimes ever increasing in our Camelot city of and on the political elite hill.

    • Julie Berkowicz

      Excellent points Gerard. Where do we rank currently in DUI’s? Many years ago they ranked Naperville as one of the top Illinois cities for DUI’s. That is a statistic the Naperville government wouldn’t want to brag about.
      We had dinner downtown recently and it was a beautiful night. The narrow sidewalks were packed and little kids were climbing and running and strollers were everywhere. You can’t speed walk on the sidewalks in downtown Naperville. How do they think shoppers and pedestrians are going to navigate these tight traffic patterns when we add these sidewalk bars? It certainly doesn’t add any teeth to the family friendly ranking!

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    This all started with the temp permit they gave Sullivan’s. The justification was Sullivan’s needed the space to accommodate their patrons during their remodel. I can only guess that the city did not get enough complaints from downtown visitors to convince them doing this on a permanent and expanded bases would be a problem. There are some areas downtown that some stores already have tables for patron, areas were the sidewalk opens up and is wider, but for the most of the downtown area the sidewalks are not wide enough to accommodate all the pedestrian traffic.

    This of course is not the only area of creep in the liquor ordinances. Every since the passage of the change allowing end-cap and pairing displays outside the liquor confinement area stores have been slow changing their operations. I have seen liquor on display next to shoes, suntan lotion and variety of other product none of which was edible. Pairing were sold to the residents as beening displays of liquor with fine dinning options with some sign explaining the pairing. This simply is not happening. When I spoke at city council about my concern that there was nothing preventing these displays from becoming beer & chip or wine & cracker displays there was no reaction but this is what is happening now. I was also concern about the lack of definition about what was and end-cap. Presently stores are setting up “island” displays at the front of the store that are nothing but alcohol (what? two end-caps with the rest of the isle removed?). Additionally the liquor confinement areas are disappearing and liquor is becoming just another isle in the store. This was something residents were told would not happen.

    When concerns were raised about the impression this would give young people the response was it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children right from wrong. True, but the city does create an atmosphere that makes teaching right from wrong either easier or harder and the present liquor ordinance make it harder for parent to do the job city council clearly expects from them.. This attitude on liquor is in direct contradiction to the council attitude on medical marijuana, which they want to keep out of sight.

    This is one of those areas that I can not agree with what city leadership is do.

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