Liquor License on the Line, Chicago Pizzeria Files Suit

CHICAGO (CN) – Two years after its extensive dress code raised opening-night eyebrows, a Chicago bar sued the city Tuesday for revoking its liquor license.

Bottled Blonde, a pizzeria and beer garden that operates more as a nightclub, brought the suit in the chancery division of Cook County Circuit Court. It is represented in the suit by attorneys at Tanzillo Gallucci.

A month earlier, Chicago revoked Bottled Blonde’s liquor license for violation of terms. It said Bottled Blonde was required to get less than half of its revenue from alcohol sales, but it was bringing in more than 60 percent.

But Bottled Blonde says in its complaint that this term was an addition to the original license, imposed without its consent in 2016 by Maria Lapacek, the commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection.

Quoting Chicago’s 1934 Liquor Control Act, the complaint notes the mayor is the official liquor control commissioner and can appoint another person to help him with the job.

Bottled Blonde notes that it was Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointee, Commissioner Gregory Steadman, who approved Bottled Blondes’ original license, and that they are the only two people who can make decisions about its liquor licenses.

“The revised plan of operation is not legally enforceable because it was not executed by the local liquor control commissioner, as is required by law,” the complaint states.

In addition to seeking an injunction against Chicago’s enforcement of municipal code against it, Bottled Blonde says the city’s entire liquor statute should be struck down as unconstitutional, especially the stipulation that the commissioner can deny an establishment a license if it “would tend to create a law enforcement problem.”

Bottled Blonde says the city can’t require bars to perform crowd control outside of its property because they “authority to police the public streets of the City of Chicago.”

“The ordinance is unconstitutional on its face, in its entirety and as applied because it calls for Licensee’s staff to perform an impossible undertaking i.e. to prevent crimes by exercising police powers,” the complaint states.

Bottled Blonde first drew attention for its extensive dress code when it opened in 2015. Among other things, the restaurant frowns upon certain footwear (Jordans, Nike Air Max and Air Force Ones), sports jerseys, leather, short-sleeve hoodies, overly long hoodies and shirts that feature zippers.

Bottled Blonde’s neighbors have complained that the bar’s security is no match for clientele, who have brought urine and vomit to their streets and sidewalks.

The bar is still serving alcohol pending its appeal. Attorneys for Bottled Blonde at the firm Tanzillo Gallucci have not returned a voicemail seeking comment.

The city’s legal department has also not returned a request for comment.

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