The issuance of no fewer than seven liquor licenses once again graced the City Council agenda on Jan. 13, continuing a recent trend. The license issues ranged from old stalwart restaurants deciding to sell alcohol for the first time (Clarke’s) to new restaurants just coming to town (several) to a new “brew it and then drink it” model.
Thomas Tsatas of Clarke’s said he thought his restaurant might be the oldest in the City, and the Administration and Public Works committee collectively paused for a moment before agreeing that it is quite possibly true. Clarke’s has been open since 1986. “We don’t just serve breakfast,” said Mr. Tsatas. “We need to increase sales. Rent is expensive.”
The plan is to serve Bloody Marys and Bellinis for brunch, he said, and other beverages later. Council asked about the hours, but made no changes or amendments to the proposal. The measure was introduced by unanimous vote, and will return for final vote in two weeks.
Next came Trader Joe’s, which seeks to upgrade its grocery store beer and wine license to a grocery store beer, wine and liquor license. The two-part measure was introduced without objection or discussion. Patrons can look for the heavier stuff in Trader Joe’s soon after final passage in two weeks.
Several new restaurants are on their way into town, and three of them had liquor licenses introduced by Council. First came Lyfe Kitchen (pronounced “life”), which is slated to go into the round building space at 1603 Orrington Ave. this spring. Lyfe has four locations in California and just one Midwest location, on Clark Street in Chicago. Their Class C license, for downtown core area liquor, was introduced.
Just a bit north door will be Lao Sze Chuan at 1633 Orrington Ave. Representative Patrick Deacon said the restaurant is celebrity chef Xiao Jun (Tony) Hu’s entry into the Evanston market. The restaurant, which appears close to opening, will serve traditional Chinese fare. Its Class C liquor license was also introduced.
Next came the newly named Boltwood, which will occupy the Lulu’s space. Named after a cafeteria at Evanston Township High School and run by ETHS alums John Kim and Brian Huston (currently chef at Chicago’s popular Publican Restaurant), Boltwood promises a new twist on American fare uses simple, traditional cooking methods and rustic ingredients. Their request for a class C license was also introduced.
Three new downtown restaurants within a short walk of each other did not quite complete the evening’s task.
The NorthShore Hotels’ renovated ballroom will also include a new lounge space tentatively named “the Crystal Residence.” NorthShore representative Daniel Michael told Council the lounge had a new name but he was not ready to reveal it. Their class C will allow service of alcohol during Crystal Ballroom functions. Mr. Michael said the newly renovated ballroom would be used to host catered events.
Finally came the brew-your-own license, a newly created class M allowing for “brew-it-yourself” beer and wine-making classes, parties, events and the like. “It’s both craft – and beer,” said Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward. The creation of the license is just the first step. Richard Sandrick, who hopes to open a “Grain and the Grape” establishment soon. Patrons will make their own beer or wine, leave it to ferment, then return later to pick it up, take it home and enjoy the fruits of their crafty labors.
Mr. Sandrick said he did not have a location selected as yet. The business would also have a retail component, selling beer- and wine-making materials.
With that, the City’s liquor business was done for the evening. All ordinances were introduced only, and contrary to recent trend there was not a single request to suspend the rules for immediate passage. All ordinances will therefore return for their second reading in two weeks, allowing any objection that may be out there to ferment.