A Riverside liquor store that closed its doors earlier in May did so because the state of Illinois refused to renew its liquor license.
Sue Hoffer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, confirmed that a legal hold had been placed on the liquor license for Riverside Wine and Spirits, 2720 Harlem Ave., because the business’ owner, Nader Yahya, had failed to pay a fine imposed after an inspection in late 2012.
Hoffer said there were “paperwork issues” that came to light during the inspection and that Yahya was to have resolved those issues and pay the fine. That apparently never happened. The business’ state liquor license expired March 31, though Riverside Wine and Spirits continued to operate into April.
In addition, Hoffer said there were “questions” related to the corporation, Riverside Inc., to whom the liquor license was issued. Riverside Inc. was dissolved as a corporation in June 2012.
That in itself is not a major issue, said Hoffer.
“You can either change the license or re-incorporate,” Hoffer said.
A sign on the front door of Riverside Wine and Spirits stated that the business had moved to 6338 W. Ogden Ave. in Berwyn. That’s the address of Berwyn Food and Liquor, a business Yahya had opened prior to the Riverside venture.
A call to Berwyn Food and Liquor seeking comment on the closure of the Riverside business was not returned.
Yahya recently was also a defendant in a residential eviction lawsuit in the village of Worth. The suit was filed in February, and a judge signed the eviction order in April. The plaintiff’s attorney, Dennis Sbertoli, told the Landmark that Yahya’s name was on the lease to the house in question, but that he may not have lived at the residence.
At the end of 2012, around the time of the state’s inspection of the business, Yahya apparently made an attempt to sell Riverside Wine and Spirits. An expired online sales listing indicates he tried to sell the business and its inventory for $275,000. A YouTube video, dated Dec. 15, 2012 and marketing the business for sale, includes photos of the interior and exterior of the building.
The property owner has enlisted the services of David Coupe of Sperry Van Ness, a commercial real estate firm, to market the space.
Reached Thursday, Coupe said he has started reaching out to potential tenants but that there is no particular tenant in mind for the property at this time. Coupe is targeting liquor businesses to inhabit the space. Village Manager Peter Scalera said the village has no objection to another liquor-related use at the property.
Yahya pitched Riverside Wine and Spirits as an upscale wine-cigar-liquor store similar to The Cork, which closed in 2010. But when the new store opened in 2011, it was clear that Riverside Wine and Spirits would be something less than that. Though it sold cigars and had wine, it functioned more like a traditional liquor store, similar to Yahya’s other businesses in Berwyn and Chicago.
A temporary canvas sign that covered The Cork’s old sign in front of the business remained throughout the life of Riverside Wine and Spirits.