via Daily Herald
Chicken and eggs might be on the menu of a reborn Al Capone’s Hideaway outside St. Charles. But the owners first have to resolve a chicken-and-egg problem with their liquor license application.
Kane County liquor commissioners said Friday they want to give neighbors near the Riverside Drive property one more chance to express any safety concerns before the commission decides the fate of the license. Among the safety issues commissioners have is parking spilling onto the winding residential streets surrounding the business.
None of the materials the county has are accurate, nor final representations of what will be in place when the business opens, County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said.
“There are all these projected uses and pictures that don’t really exist, and layouts of tables and chairs that (the owners) say are not going to be the actual layout of tables and chairs,” Lauzen said. “That’s causing this to be, in my opinion, a more difficult decision. It’s like we’re shooting at a moving target.”
Co-owner Jeremy Casiello said it’s the county’s requirements that are the moving target. He said the number of parking spaces can’t be calculated until after the full impact of septic system upgrades on the current parking lot are known. It will cost thousands of dollars to fully answer those questions. And that’s money that would be a total loss if the commission doesn’t approve the liquor license he needs to operate the establishment.
Casiello owns other businesses in St. Charles, Geneva and Palatine. He said his experience in applying for liquor licenses in those communities involves an understanding of the cost involved with getting detailed plans.
“Everywhere else we’ve gone through this, any lingering questions are attached as contingencies to an approved license,” Casiello said. “If we don’t meet the requirements of the contingencies, we don’t get the license. But that also involves a promise that you do get the license if you meet the contingencies.”
To that point, liquor commissioners on Friday rejected the idea of having an outside study performed on the location to examine safety hazards. County staff members said there aren’t many people who do that kind of work. Employing that rare expertise could run the county’s costs up to four times the $2,500 to $3,000 return the county would see from issuing the license.
Instead of the study, commissioners want to invite Casiello in for a public meeting with them and the neighbors of the business to discuss any concerns. An exact date and location has yet to be determined.
Casiello said he’s happy to participate. In fact, he already had such a meeting in the community during the zoning application process. The full county board approved the underlying business zoning in September.
“We talked a lot about safety concerns and had conversations with neighbors during that zoning process,” Casiello said. “So these new hurdles just feel like we are back to square one, especially because several of these same liquor commissioners voted in favor of the zoning. If Capone was alive, he would really be smiling about all this.”