Schulter Proposes New Liquor License Category

By Cody Prentiss | Friday, June 25, 2010

Inside Spacca Napoli. Photo from Yelp.com.

Local restaurateurs could see their overhead come down due to a new beer and wine license proposed by Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th), Chair of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection. At the June 9 City Council meeting, Schulter introduced changes to the city liquor license ordinance to allow for a more affordable beer and wine license. The proposed license would cost restaurateurs $1,600 every two years, as opposed to the current two-year license fee of $4,400 that covers all alcohol.

“This new license category will give entrepreneurs more options,” Schulter said in a press release.

Johnathan Goldsmith, owner of the Ravenswood restaurant Spacca Napoli (1769 W Sunnyside Ave.), said the alternative license would be good for eateries like his that don’t have a full bar.

?If it’s a matter of paying $1,600 in costs, business-wise, it makes sense,? Goldsmith said. ?$1,600 is a small amount compared to the revenue from [beer and wine].?

For Goldsmith, licensing fees are not a huge issue. He said that while he would rather not pay anything at all, the fee he pays to serve alcohol is relatively minor compared to what he has to spend to run his business.

Of course, local restaurants with full bars would continue to pay the $4,400 license fee. But Todd Feinberg, General Manager of Bistro Campagne (4518 N Lincoln Ave.), said he feels this fee is fine, and even if the cheaper option became available, he’d keep the full bar.

?Liquor is a high-profit center,? Feinberg said.

Robert Rawls, Schulter’s Communications Director, said that while it’s premature to talk about business owners’ reaction to the proposal, the initial response was positive. Details have yet to be ironed out, and the proposal was referred to the Committee on License and Consumer Protection for further discussion. Rawls said it’s not currently on the agenda for the next City Council meeting.

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