Another Look at Chicago BYOBs

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I previously wrote about some misconceptions about the BYOB law in Chicago

In this post, I want to discuss why some restaurants are BYOB and what those restaurants can do to boost their bottom line by adding liquor to the menu. After all, if you aren't selling alcohol, you may be leaving money on the table: alcohol could generate 10 to 30 percent of revenue at a restaurant and 40 to 50 percent of the profit. (source).

Obviously, there may be many reasons why a restaurant owner chooses to stay BYOB. But some owners may feel like they have been forced to be BYOB only. 

For example:

  • Some BYOB restaurant owners have been told that the Zoning Department will not allow liquor sales at their location.
  • Some BYOB restaurant owners have been told that they can't sell liquor because they are in a "vote dry" area.
  • Some BYOB restaurant owners have been told that they can't sell liquor because they are in a "moratorium" area.
  • Some BYOB restaurant owners have been told that they can't sell liquor because they are too close to a church, school, or other special institution.

When some restaurant owners hear this, they think it's the end of the story and they give up. They think that there is no way to add liquor to their restaurant. They think that they will have to miss out on the money that liquor may bring to their bottom line. They think it's a death sentence.

Here's the secret: they shouldn't think that way. These rules are not set in stone.

The thing to remember is that the people who made these rules can change the rules

  • Zoning can be changed to accommodate new alcohol sellers
  • Areas that have been voted dry can be voted back again
  • Aldermen can lift moratoria to allow new liquor sales
  • Exceptions can be written in to the law which will allow liquor sales close to churches, schools, and other special institutions

It can all be done. You can find restaurants all over Chicago who were initially denied a license, but are now serving alcohol.

Of course, there are many other issues that may come up on your path to a liquor license. If you have ever been denied or think you may be denied, let's discuss it. There may be a way to fix the problem.

Are you ready to begin? Contact me for a free consultation.

by Daniel Rubinow, Principal Attorney

License Law Group

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Daniel Rubinow