CHICAGO — After a proposed 10 p.m. last call on liquor sales at retail stores was deemed “dead on arrival,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot floated a new proposal Tuesday just before a city committee is set to vote on a business relief package that includes the unpopular measure.
Lightfoot introduced the 10 p.m. curfew for stores with a packaged goods license — mainly grocery, convenience and liquor stores — in May, generating immediate pushback from residents, businesses and aldermen.
On Tuesday, Lightfoot offered a “compromise” that would push back the curfew to midnight. Her office said the revised plan “is a result of weeks of engagement” with City Council, business leaders and community groups.
The city temporarily created a 9 p.m. curfew on liquor sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Before that, stores were able to sell beer, liquor and wine until 2 a.m.
“We believe a midnight closure is a reasonable compromise that addresses the serious nuisance issues raised by late-night liquor sales without unduly burdening our business community, and I continue to look forward to working with all stakeholders to make our city as safe and vibrant as possible,” Lightfoot said.
The permanent 10 p.m. curfew became a sticking point with aldermen and threatened to derail the mayor’s business relief package, meant to jumpstart the city’s economy.
Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) took to Twitter to announce the proposal was “100 percent dead on arrival.”
On Tuesday, Reilly told Block Club the two-hour extension satisfied “my concerns on that issue.” But Reilly said other measures in Lightfoot’s relief package have yet to win his support.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) previously told Block Club the proposal “came out of left field.”
“I think there probably are some aldermen who have some liquor retailers that have been the source of problems, and curtailing the hours that they sell alcohol could actually be a good solution in some of those cases, but you don’t need a citywide ban during those hours,” he said at the time.
Hopkins said Tuesday the midnight compromise “seems likely” to be accepted by aldermen based on conversations he’s had.
At least three other aldermen are publicly backing the compromise.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who chairs the Committee on License and Consumer Protection that will consider the business relief package Thursday, said “late-night alcohol sales have long posed” a problem in her West Side ward.
Mitts supported the 10 p.m. ban and wrote a Chicago Tribune editorial on Monday pushing for it. In it, she said she and six other prominent Lightfoot allies in City Council “have heard over and over again from residents that late-night alcohol sales are having a harmful effect on the neighborhoods that they are proud to call home.”
“It is important that [we] come together to find a reasonable compromise, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this necessary legislation that strikes the right balance between our businesses and our communities,” Mitts said Tuesday.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) called it a “good compromise between the needs of businesses that are working to recover from the pandemic and the needs of residents that face quality of life issues in their neighborhoods.”
And Ald. James Cappleman (46th), who tweeted that the 10 p.m. curfew was never meant to be included in the original package, said passing legislation “requires listening to all sides of an issue and coming together with a compromise that works for everyone.”
The full package of business reforms must be approved by a majority of those present when the 19-member committee votes Thursday. The mayor will directly introduce the package into the committee ahead of the vote, and a full copy of the proposal was not immediately available.
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