City Council Approves Late-Night Liquor License for Downtown Ballydoyle Restaurant

City increases number of late-night liquor permits from 18 to 19 for Ballydoyle during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

A late-night liquor permit for Empire at Ballydoyle, a new downtown restaurant and bar, was approved by Naperville City Council Tuesday.

Readers React: Late-Night Liquor Permit for Ballydoyle?

Council members voted to approve an ordinance that increases the number of late-night liquor permits from 18 to 19 for the family-friendly restaurant, which hopes to open by December at the former Rosebud Italian Restaurant 48 W. Chicago Ave. 

But the additional permit wasn't passed with ease, or unanimously.

Mayor George Pradel was the only dissenting vote Tuesday, citing safety concerns as well as Ballydoyle's policy of allowing minors into the restaurant after 9 p.m., if they are accompanied by an adult. 

Pradel, who is the city's liquor commissioner, said the city will take a close look at the issue before signing off on the license.

"Before I sign the liquor license, I will make sure that if there is restrictions we will put restrictions on it, but we will research it very thoroughly before we do that," Pradel said.

While Naperville police said they have curbed downtown incidents as of late, Police Chief Bob Marshall said that the addition of any new bar would be a "tipping point" for the department in terms of enforcement efforts.  

"First of all, even without Ballydoyle, the police department doesn't have enough resources to police the downtown," Chief Marshall said Tuesday.

He added that the department would be able to hire new officers, which takes roughly eight to 10 months. 

Salaries for each additional officer would be about $69,000, according to the city. To cover the cost, the city is considering applying for a Community Oriented Policing-Services (COPS) federal grant, which pays for 75 percent of an officer's salary for three years. The remaining 25 percent is paid for by the city.

Many council members also echoed concerns about safety in the downtown area, including underage drinking. 

"I'm going to reluctantly support it," Councilman Grant Wehrli said. "But I want that to be known to the developer and to the police force that there will be tight reigns here."

Phil Cullen, the owner of Ballydoyle, addressed concerns Tuesday and said safety is a top priority for the restaurant.

"We put a lot of responsibility on our staff and on the people coming in," Cullen said. "And if they don't follow the rules, then they are gone." 

At Cullen's three other Ballydoyle locations, customers over the age of 21 receive a stamp on their hand and those under 21 receive a bracelet and a separate marking on their hand, he said. Cullen plans to implement the same policy at the Naperville location.

Similar to its three suburban locations, Empire would offer burgers, craft beer, rooftop seating, live music and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Some council members were also pleased that Cullen was willing to renovate the 100-year-old building at 48 W. Chicago Ave. for Empire, considering that it has been vacant for three years after being severely damaged during a fire.  

"We have here one establishment that comes in with a challenging property who's going to make a substantial investment, even after the flood, and he's still willing to step up to the plate," said Councilman Doug Krause. "He's a responsible operator." 

Councilman Wehrli said whether Empire is the tipping point for the downtown area or not, the city has to be cautious and must maintain a healthy retail/restaurant mix.

"It's like walking up to the Grand Canyon, you're not just going to go running up there and stop all of the sudden. You're going to creep up on it, take a look over, make sure you're footing's sound," Wehrli said. "I mean we can't let downtown fault, we just can't."

James L. Freeland May 08, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Congrats to our City Council. You did the right thing -- thank you.
Amazing News May 08, 2013 at 08:31 PM
"First of all, even without Ballydoyle, the police department doesn't have enough resources to police the downtown," Chief Marshall said Tuesday. The Naperville PD has approximately 180 officers, but they don't have enough to "police the downtown" and handle one more restaurant? I'd say do some management analysis of your personnel. I bet you can easily pull an officer off of another assignment somewhere in high crime ridden Naperville to cover all the mayhem that will certainly result in another restaurant/bar in downtown Naperville. Have you been to downtown Naperville late on a Fri or Sat night? It looks like a police state. 6 police cars lined up bumper to bumper on Chicago Ave with 6-8 officers standing by the cars.. Another car parked in the driveway between the Chi Ave parking deck and the Wentz Fine Arts Center. Another car on the south side of Benton between the parking deck and the Post Office/Bank. Another on the east side of Washington just north of US Bank. 2 or 3 teams of 2 officers on roving foot patrol, and 2 or 3 teams of 2 officers on roving bicycle patrol. All this within an area a few blocks square. Not enough resources to police downtown? Really Chief? If thats the case, it doesn't seem like you're making very efficient use of your resources.
Resurrected May 09, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Amazing News it all boils down to stupid and immature people that can't behave when and after they have had drinks. If they did the Police wouldn't have to be paid overtime and taken out of other assignments or patrol zones to watch the idiot drunks!
Ghost of Joseph Napier May 10, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Renovation and renewal of older areas of downtown must proceed. Regretfully this building could not be razed completely to further extend the Riverwalk system of park spaces. Was the red tape too much to entice Mr. Cullen and his investors to build on part of the empty land surrounding the parking deck at Main and Van Buren?
Stewart May 13, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Old Man Potter gets his way again... here comes "Pottersville"!!!


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