Naperville bar rules: No new customers, or shots, hour before closing

By Melissa Jenco, Tribune reporter
October 8, 2014 2:9 PM

Source: Chicago Tribune

Bob Irons from Outback Steakhouse talks to Naperville city councilmen about a proposal to lower the size of beer. (Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune.)

Bob Irons from Outback Steakhouse talks to Naperville city councilmen about a proposal to lower the size of beer. (Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune.)

Naperville bars can no longer allow patrons to enter their establishments or take shots in the hour before closing.

Councilmen approved those citywide regulations along with others like beer sizes late Tuesday night following a debate rife with procedural issues that took 11 votes to reconcile.

“We are trying to get our downtown back,” Councilman Grant Wehrli said, addressing bar owners. “There is pain that is going to be felt and hopefully it hits you in your wallets.”

Talk of new regulations started several months ago after an alleged drunken driving crash killed two men and video of a downtown street fight went viral. Councilmen also have cited a 2012 incident in which an elementary school teacher was stabbed to death after stepping in the middle of a downtown bar fight.

Under the new rules approved Tuesday, patrons can’t enter or re-enter bars in the hour before closing with the exception of hotel bars. The rule was seen by some as an alternative to previous proposals to close bars early, but opponents have expressed concerns about people who have a legitimate reason to leave and re-enter. The rule was approved with a 6-2 vote with one councilman abstaining.

The new rules also call for noncraft beers to be limited to 22 ounces, down from 24 ounces, which was approved with a 5-4 vote. Maximum craft beer sizes will remain at 24 ounces.

Councilmen have heard from some bar owners in recent weeks that large craft beers aren’t causing problems because people sip them slowly and limit how many they order. Councilman Joe McElroy said imposing new size limits seemed like “more trouble than it’s worth,” but Councilman Dave Wentz said he was in favor after witnessing bar patrons drinking 24-ounce domestic beers that they bought for only $5.

There was less debate over three new regulations councilmen approved involving shots – they cannot be served in the hour before closing, there will be no announcement of last call for shots and bars can’t offer shots to patrons. Councilmen rejected a proposal to reduce the size of shots to 2 ounces, down from 3 ounces.

One of the main sources of disagreements when debating regulations was whether they should be implemented citywide or just downtown.

“Why should they (owners outside downtown) be penalized because we have a problem in the downtown area?” Councilman Doug Krause asked.

But McElroy said rules for downtown only could have additional consequences.

“I can imagine a scenario where if we restrict it to downtown people will just get in their cars when they’re half-loaded and go out to someplace outside the downtown,” he said.

The majority ultimately agreed to make all of the new rules citywide. They will likely go into effect in the next several days, once the wording is formalized and signed by the mayor.

Last month, councilmen also agreed to prohibit bars from reducing the price of alcoholic beverages by more than 50 percent. They also mandated additional training for security guards.

Several councilmen Tuesday called on Mayor George Pradel, the city’s liquor commissioner, to be more strict in punishing bars that break the rules.

“I do remember other previous liquor commissioners where they would just pull liquor licenses, period, right then and there,” Wehrli said. “We do not have that kind of enforcement here.”

Councilmen have said if the new regulations don’t solve issues in the downtown they are willing to look at closing bars early.

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

Naperville restricts bar entry, shot sales, beer sizes

Marie Wilson
updated: 10/8/2014 12:46 PM

Source: Daily Herald

Naperville resident Roger McDonald asks city council members to consider requiring bars to close earlier to prevent fights, crashes and rowdiness in the downtown. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

Naperville resident Roger McDonald asks city council members to consider requiring bars to close earlier to prevent fights, crashes and rowdiness in the downtown.
Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

Liquor license holders throughout Naperville will face additional restrictions on late-night entry, shot sales and beer sizes after the city council adopted new regulations developed this summer after a fatal crash and a fight on Washington Street.

In a complex series of votes Tuesday, the council approved the following:

• Bars and restaurants with liquor licenses citywide will not be able to admit new patrons or let people re-enter beginning one hour before closing time. Closing remains at 2 a.m. on weekends and 1 a.m. on weekdays with a late-night permit. Hotels with Class J liquor licenses will be exempt, so customers can enter and re-enter until closing time.

• The maximum serving size for craft beer, as defined in the municipal code, will be 24 ounces, while the maximum serving size for non-craft beer will be reduced to 22 ounces. Craft beer is described by a three-part definition: It must come from a craft brewery that produces less than 2 million barrels of beer each year; the brewery must be less than 25 percent owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not a craft brewer; and the brewery must produce a significant volume of malt beers or beers that use adjuncts to enhance flavors rather than to lighten them.

“There are a few establishments that if they just stopped selling the inexpensive big beers, we wouldn’t be having this issue,” council member Judith Brodhead said. “So now we will codify it.”

• Shots cannot be served beginning one hour prior to closing time at bars and restaurants with liquor licenses citywide. There must be no “last call” for shots. And no one is allowed to encourage customers to order shots, as bars sometimes do by allowing an employee or drink promoter to walk around with a tray of shots to sell. The council declined to limit the size of shots to 2 ounces.

“Regarding shots, to me the point isn’t trying to figure out exactly how big it is, but the heart of it is prohibiting the service of shots one hour before closing time,” council member Joseph McElroy said. “I think that’s a good idea. It will really address some of the worst parts of the abuse.”

These new regulations are on top of two others approved last month that require city-sponsored alcoholic beverage server training for bar security personnel and prohibit establishments with liquor licenses from offering specials that decrease the price of a drink to less than half its regular cost.

Procedurally, approval of the new regulations Tuesday became complex because few council members agreed on all elements of the regulations. Council member Robert Fieseler abstained from at least four votes because “this whole process has become so flawed and convoluted and internally inconsistent.”

Drinking regulations originally were proposed by the city’s liquor commission in August to curb problems with what some describe as overservice and others call overconsumption of alcohol.

“The issue is overconsumption,” police Chief Robert Marshall said. “The more alcohol you give them, the more alcohol they’re going to drink and that leads to the problems we’re seeing.”

Points of division included whether regulations should apply citywide or only downtown and whether hotels should be forced to forbid entry or re-entry one hour before closing time. Some on the council also opposed any further regulation on the maximum serving size of beer.

Council members have begun tracking crime statistics for the downtown as a way to measure whether liquor law changes are keeping people safer. The council will receive quarterly updates on violations for DUI, public urination, battery or fighting, resisting arrest or interfering with police officers, disorderly conduct, criminal damage to property and breaking liquor code regulations.

If the regulations put into place so far don’t bring positive change, the council could move to the solution Naperville resident Roger McDonald pushed for Tuesday: reducing bar hours.

“If this doesn’t work,” McElroy said, “I’ll be back to saying close the bars early.”


Economic downturns have historically been venues for the introduction of cheaper booze, beer and illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. London now has cocaine in its water supply due to the fact that it has seen a flood of cheaply produced cocaine flood the markets there.

Here in the United States even the bicyclists of the Illinois Region have decided to join the massive shift to craft brewed beers for all occasions. Bicycle clubs have had internal discussions about whether to hold their Holiday Party on the most dangerous night (for driving) of the entire year. All because we want to celebrate our holidays by getting drunk and acting stupidly.

If you cannot convince cyclists that this is a bad choice, then who could be convinced otherwise.