Elmhurst may change Sunday liquor sales hours to accommodate brunch

City Council will vote on whether to approve a 6 a.m. start

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ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council will vote on whether to change liquor sales hours for Sunday to make it consistent with the rest of the week, giving local restaurants an opportunity to offer alcoholic beverages at brunch.

As it stands, city ordinance allows the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday and 6 a.m. the rest of the week. For packaged alcoholic beverages, Sunday sales can start at 10 a.m.

The report out of the Public Affairs and Safety Committee recommends that the ordinance be amended so that liquor sale hours are consistent across the week. Aldermen Scott Levin, Dannee Polomsky and Bob Dunn discussed the request from the city’s business development coordinator, on behalf of the business community, during the Monday, July 10 committee meeting. The City Council will vote on the report during its next regular meeting on July 17.

Dunn began the discussion expressing concern with liquor sales starting as early as 6 a.m. He said that in a survey of neighboring municipalities conducted by city staff, only a few towns start that early. Of 19 municipalities, only Woodridge, Elk Grove Village and Clarendon Hills allow sales to start at 6 a.m. At the same time, the majority of municipalities do allow sales to begin at 9 a.m. or earlier. Elmhurst is in a small group that allow sales to start at 11 a.m. or later, along with Aurora, Villa Park and Hinsdale.

“I don’t necessarily feel we have to be a leader in [the early] group, I tend to be a little conservative and I think it’s pushing the time too far, it is a little too early in my opinion,” Dunn said. “At this point I feel comfortable with 9 a.m.”

Polomsky agreed that 6 a.m. was too early while recognizing that it would be helpful for local restaurants to be able to serve alcoholic beverages earlier on Sundays. She then pointed out that although it seems early, that is when alcohol sales begin every other day of the week. Polomsky asked Chief of Police Michael Ruth if there was any enforcement difficulty with having different hours on Sunday. Ruth said that since most places in Elmhurst close at 2 a.m., most enforcement issues come up in the latter part of the day from 11 p.m to 1 a.m.

“In terms of an enforcement aspect of it, it would not present a problem for us, I wouldn’t anticipate a problem, especially on the front end,” Ruth said.

The committee agreed that most places would not open that early unless there was a special occasion. Margaret Fitzharris from Fitz’s Pub said that sometimes people will go to the bar as early as 7 a.m. to watch European soccer. Even though it’s not frequent, she said, there are times when opening that early makes sense.

“I don’t really see a difference with Sunday anymore. It’s surprising to me that people would be open on any day of the week serving liquor at 6 a.m. in a restaurant, but I don’t see a difference with Sunday.”

Levin was also concerned that 6 a.m. may be too early, but he was more interested in amending an ordinance that gave Sunday special treatment, something which he said was based on the culture of the time and doesn’t apply today.

“I don’t really see a difference with Sunday anymore,” Levin said. “It’s surprising to me that people would be open on any day of the week serving liquor at 6 a.m. in a restaurant, but I don’t see a difference with Sunday.”

In order to be consistent, Levin said he would like to change liquor sale hours to start at 6 a.m. on Sunday so as not to change the ordinance for the rest of the week. Dunn asked city staff about the earliest time requested by business owners who wanted to sell liquor Sunday morning. Mary Moy-Gregg from OMG! Bruch and Boutique opens at 7:30 a.m. on Sundays and she was one strong advocate for amending the ordinance.

Dunn said he would be OK with changing hours so liquor sales can start at 7:30 a.m., per the request, and would be willing to entertain 6 a.m. since most businesses don’t open that early anyway. Polomsky was hesitant to pick a time, saying it seemed arbitrary, but then decided to support 6 a.m. for the sake of consistency. Levin mentioned that the committee had received very little feedback from residents, which could mean that most were not concerned with the proposed change, or that people were on vacation or otherwise distracted by the summer season. In the end the consensus was that changing the liquor sale hours to start at 6 a.m. on Sunday would be consistent and help businesses in town.

Brendan Fitzharris, who owns Fitz’s Pub and Fitz’s Spare Keys, said he doesn’t think 6 a.m. is too early because there are people who have different schedules and may work at night.

“I don’t think 6 a.m. is too early because people who work the third shift get off at 6 or 7 a.m.,” Fitzharris said. “They might want to come out after work.”

Sunday Liquor Hours Report by The Elmhurst Titan on Scribd