Keg owner appeals Evanston mayor’s decision to Illinois liquor board

Marshall Cohen

Tom Migon, owner of The Keg of Evanston, has appealed the mayor’s decision to revoke his liquor license, he told The Daily on Wednesday.

Migon’s appeal will be heard by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

He deferred further comment to attorney Todd Stephens, who also confirmed the appeal but could not be reached for additional comment Wednesday.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl revoked The Keg’s liquor license Jan. 30, just three days after a hearing of the city’s Liquor Control Review Board. Tisdahl serves as commissioner of the liquor board as part of her mayoral duties.

During the hearing, city attorney Grant Farrar presented evidence against The Keg, 810 Grove St., and accused Migon and his staff of regularly serving underage drinkers.

The mayor’s written decision was based primarily on the mounting number of underage patrons caught drinking at the bar in recent years. Almost 150 citations were issued at The Keg since 2005, and three-quarters of those tickets were alcohol-related.

Tisdahl also cited a satirical Twitter account run by a Northwestern student as “incontrovertible proof that The Keg, through its use of social media, expressly incited, encouraged, and assisted underage patrons in coming to The Keg and consuming alcohol,” according to her written opinion.

City spokesman Eric Palmer declined to comment Wednesday due to the pending legal matter.

In his first interview since the mayor’s decision, Migon told The Daily in February he was considering an appeal to the state liquor commission.

Members of the liquor board and liquor law experts said in that Feb. 10 article that the introduction of Tweets as evidence complicated the seemingly straightforward case against The Keg.

Liquor board member Dick Peach said the Twitter account “muddied” the hearing.

“I don’t know why Grant brought that in,” Peach said in the article. “I really don’t understand. I thought there was more than enough information on the table before that ever arrived.”

Harlan Powell, of Chicago-based Webster Powell, P.C., has specialized in hospitality and liquor law for 15 years. He said Tisdahl’s decision was “problematic on a lot of fronts” because of the seemingly false accusation in her ruling that Migon ran the account.

“While the rules may be relaxed (in an administrative hearing), hearsay is always hearsay, and that’s not information that should typically be relied upon for an order that essentially deprives someone of their livelihood,” Powell said in the article.

Majdi Hijazin, a managing partner at a law office in Oak Brook, Ill., specializes in municipal liquor matters and was recognized as one of the top Illinois attorneys by Super Lawyers magazine in 2011. After reviewing the mayor’s order, he said it was clear that part of her decision was based on the Twitter posts.

“If the reason she revoked, even partly, is because of this Twitter account, then I think it’s wrong,” Hijazin said in the article. “Maybe the decision to revoke was right, but what she used to base the decision might be wrong.”

If unsuccessful with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, Migon could appeal further to the Circuit Court of Cook County, and the case could even reach a state appellate court.

[email protected]