I am writing about the proposal for a packaged goods liquor license for a new store at 6928 N. Glenwood(just south of Morse).
The applicants for the proposed license are William Meek and Erik Archambeault, who currently own Rogers Park Social at 6920 N. Glenwood. William and Erik would like to open a store called Rogers Park Provisions at which they intend to sell cheese and charcuterie, gifts, craft spirits, higher-end wines and craft beers.
The location (see photo on right) recently was a gift shop named Armilla. The owners of Armilla closed the store because of health issues involving one of the shop owners.
I held a community meeting on the proposal last month and received additional community input from emails to my office and comments on various social media. The proposal also was reviewed extensively by the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee, a group of neighborhood residents and representatives of the major community organizations in the ward that advises me on all zoning and land use issues, and the Rogers Park Business Alliance (RPBA).
After careful consideration of the opinions and suggestions of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Advisory Committee, RPBA, and the residents who attended the meetings or corresponded with my office, I have decided to SUPPORT the proposal.
What do the Applicants Need from the City?
In order to sell packaged liquor, William and Erik must obtain a packaged goods liquor license from the City of Chicago. Before they can apply for the license, however, they must obtain a special use permit from the City of Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals, as the property is zoned B3-3, and they must convince me to introduce in the City Council an ordinance to lift a moratorium on new packaged goods licenses that currently exists in the area.
The moratorium extends on both sides of Glenwood from Pratt to Lunt. If the City Council were to adopt an ordinance lifting the moratorium, it could not be re-imposed for one year.
Lifting a moratorium does not automatically entitle an applicant to a liquor license; it simply gives the applicant the right to apply for a license. He or she still must satisfy the City’s criteria for a liquor license and the application is subject to the approval of the City of Chicago’s Local Liquor Control Commissioner. The opinion of the local alderman and the community may influence the Commissioner’s decision, but the Commissioner retains final authority over whether the license will be issued.
Why do I Support the Proposal?
This is an easy call. Proposals for liquor licenses generally engender at least some community opposition, but this one has received near-unanimous community support.
Approximately 40 residents attended the community meeting on this proposal and all but one person in attendance supported the new store. The proposal also received the unanimous support of the 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee and RPBA. Comments on my Facebook page and other social media were also overwhelmingly supportive.
This is a testament to the applicants, William Meek and Erik Archambeault, who have won nearly universal acclaim for their popular Rogers Park Social, a small intimate bar that is more than just a watering hole. It is a community gathering place.
William and Erik have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can handle a liquor license responsibly and that the key to success for any business owner in Rogers Park is to integrate oneself into the fabric of our community.
Any lingering doubt about a packaged goods liquor license at the 6920 N. Glenwood location was wiped away when William and Erik presented their plan for a small gift shop at which the sale of high-end spirits, wine and craft beer was but one component of the store. The store will fit in well with the laid back entertainment district that the Morse/Glenwood Arts District has become.
Of course, lifting the liquor moratorium for a year could give another applicant the right to apply for a packaged goods license during that time period, but the probability is negligible, as all the storefronts on the two block stretch of Glenwood from Pratt to Lunt are fully occupied with successful business enterprises.
Moreover, the right to apply for a liquor license does not necessarily translate into a right to receive a liquor license. The applicant would still have to apply for a special use permit, which means they would have to submit themselves to the same community process William and Erik’s proposal underwent, and the City’s Liquor Control Commissioner retains final authority to issue a license even in an area with no moratorium.
I introduced into the City Council last week an ordinance to lift the moratorium and will urge the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant the Special Use permit when the matter comes before that body in the next few months.
I look forward to another successful business on Glenwood!