Council to decide on extending bar hours

Evan Hessel

The place where everyone knows your name could soon be staying open a little longer.

Evanston bars and restaurants would be able to serve liquor until 2 a.m. during the week and 3 a.m. on weekends if the Evanston City Council chooses Monday night to extend the hours alcohol can be served in the downtown area.

The council’s decision would create a new liquor license allowing businesses to serve alcohol for longer hours. Under the current ordinance, alcohol service must end at 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Bars and restaurants want to take advantage of the high number of customers patronizing their establishments on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, said Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

“The main point is that there are several businesses in Evanston whose customers don’t want to go home at 12 or 1 and want to stay until 2 or 3,” Perman said. “Thursday night in particular has become somewhat of an event in Evanston.”

More than 50 businesses could extend their hours of alcohol service, he said.

The council also will vote on a proposal to allow retirement homes to serve alcohol with meals to their residents.

The Administration and Public Works Committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending the ordinance to the City Council during their April 9 meeting.

The creation of a liquor license for retirement communities was originally requested by the Presbyterian Homes, which wanted to serve residents alcohol during dinner, Ald. Gene Feldman (9th) said at the meeting. The original proposal did not require that food be served with alcohol, but the committee amended the proposal to require that a kitchen be open during hours that liquor is served.

The council also will make decisions on issues held at the April 9 meeting due to the absence of four aldermen, including extending parking meter hours to last from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Under the current ordinance, drivers have to pay for parking from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The extension of parking meter hours is intended to increase parking turnover in downtown, said Jean Baucom, Evanston parking systems manager. Employees of businesses in the downtown area routinely park their cars in metered spots for entire days, frustrating business patrons looking for spots during the late-afternoon and evening hours, Baucom said. Longer parking meter hours would discourage workers from leaving their cars directly in front of businesses and restaurants.

The closing of the Sherman Avenue public garage, which is scheduled for this summer, will make parking turnover even more important in the future, Baucom said. The closing will eliminate 656 spots in the the center of downtown, she said.

Ald. Edmund Moran (6th) said he supports the proposed extension of meter hours, but realizes that drivers may be confused by changes.

“There is going to have to be some time invested educating people and putting up signs about the new hours,” he said.