The business that Blackhawk Restaurant Group wants to open in the Glidden Crossing shopping center near the intersection of Annie Glidden and Malta roads doesn’t sound much like a bar.
The establishment, which would be called Penny’s, would not serve hard liquor and would have a three-drink limit for patrons – one more than at a typical Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. Their business plan is to make most of their money on food sales, then coffee and soft drinks, then on three video gaming terminals and alcohol sales.
It’s the gaming that creates the complication: The state of Illinois only allows video gaming in businesses with a liquor license, so Penny’s has to have one. But when the DeKalb City Council voted to allow gaming in 2012, they decided to only allow it in places with bar-class liquor licenses. (There are several different license classifications, and under other circumstances, Penny’s would probably seek a less alcohol-centric restaurant license.)
So because of how the rules line up, Penny’s has to tell the city they’re a bar in order to have video gambling, then ask them to change the annexation agreement to allow a bar in Glidden Crossing with the rationale that Penny’s isn’t really a bar, even though they have to say they are.
The store is proposed for a space in the shopping center between Goodwill and Davita Dialysis.
There might be paths to compromise for the city and the business owner, but the last one aldermen should choose is changing the rules at Glidden Crossing. Those restrictions were put in place for a reason, and once the saloon doors swing open for a bar that isn’t really a bar, they’re open for all.
Neighbors have said they don’t want a bar in Glidden Crossing, and the council should keep its word to them.
Other means of compromise could be just as difficult – the business owners could look for another location or drop video gaming from their business plan. But that seems unlikely. The store already is planning a Sycamore location near the Hy-Vee grocery store on DeKalb Avenue – food, gaming and alcohol in strip centers is their business model.
The City Council could expand the types of liquor licensees it will consider for video gambling licenses – but gambling wasn’t universally popular when approved in 2012 and allowing it in more places won’t be looked on favorably, either.
It’s true that Glidden Crossing, which is anchored by a Schnuck’s grocery store, hasn’t come together as city officials had hoped. It would be a shame to lose an opportunity to bring a new business to the city, one that appears to have more to offer than beer and gaming.
Hopefully something can be negotiated. However, the terms of the annexation agreement for Glidden Crossing should remain unchanged.