Evanston city staff to explore license options for Binny’s Beverage Depot


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty speaks at a mayoral forum in 2017. Hagerty advised the Liquor Control Review Board to consider different license classifications for Binny’s Beverage Depot.

Julia Esparza, Assistant City Editor

At a Liquor Control Review Board meeting on Wednesday, Mayor Steve Hagerty told city staff to explore different classification options to accommodate a new liquor store, following pushback from other Evanston business owners.

Binny’s Beverage Depot, which is looking to open at 1111 Chicago Ave., filed for a Class K liquor license, which is specified for specialty wine, beer and spirits shops. Representatives from The Wine Goddess, Vinic Wine Co. and Beer on Central objected to Binny’s being given the classification because it would make unfair allowances, they said.

“The proposed changes to (Class K) liquor code would unevenly benefit Binny’s,” said Sophia Feddersen, a representative from Vinic Wine Co. “They want all the perks but none of the costs.”

Binny’s is a chain liquor store that boasts being the “Midwest’s largest wine, spirits, beer and cigar superstore,” according to the company’s website. The company hopes to open in the 20,000 square foot space that previously housed a Whole Foods grocery store.

However, the license Binny’s applied for doesn’t completely fit the features of the store.

The Class K liquor license Binny’s applied for is designated for stores under 5,000 square feet and has a $5,000 initial fee. The Class E license with a $25,000 initial fee, while appropriate for the size and scale of Binny’s, is confined to only be used in downtown Evanston.

Binny’s owner Michael Binstein said the store fills a “void” in Evanston and would deter residents from crossing the city border to find certain types of alcohol.

“We are all about offering people something else that can’t find in Evanston,” Binstein said. “We need a big box in order to offer a big selection … and offer lower prices.”

Representatives of other Evanston liquor establishments objected, saying Binny’s does not offer anything that isn’t already offered by other Evanston businesses. Board member Dick Peach countered by saying big box stores like Binny’s won’t necessarily hurt small businesses.

Additionally, Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar said the board made amendments to its license codes for The Wine Goddess, Vinic Wine Co. and about 50 other businesses.

“Amendments are made on a routine basis for many prospective and current license holders,” Farrar said.

Hagerty said it’s important that Binny’s adds some “uniqueness” to its store so it is not just a large building that sells alcohol.

Binstein said the store plans to offer tastings as well as feature a section called “drink local, eat local,” which would feature Evanston-made food and alcohol.

City legal staff will work with Binny’s to create a new license and present the new classification to City Council on Feb. 26. Hagerty said Binny’s will then apply for a license under the new code and re-present its application, likely at the March Liquor Control Review Board meeting.

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