Last call at three Brookfield taverns will come early beginning Jan. 1, 2015, after the village’s board of trustees voted unanimously Monday to eliminate 4 a.m. liquor licenses.
Despite last-ditch pleas from the owners of Traxx Side Bar and Grill and Cordial Inn and the manager of Brixie’s Saloon, trustees followed through with the 4 a.m. ban, saying the problems caused late at night were not worth the extra revenue.
“We understand the need to be competitive, but we’ve seen what happens with late-night licenses, and none of it is good,” said President Kit Ketchmark, who read from a prepared text.
Starting Jan. 1, all full-service taverns in Brookfield will operate under the same license, which allows the business to stay open until 1:30 a.m. on weekdays and 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Bars can open as early as 7 a.m. on every day expect Sunday.
The three taverns holding the late-night licenses are now allowed to stay open until 3 a.m. on weekdays and until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Losing an hour and a half per day will result in her business losing about a month’s worth of business per year, said Colleen Benedetto, who owns Traxx Side at 8436 Brookfield Ave. with her husband, John.
“It’s going to affect us personally, our business and our employees,” said Benedetto.
Benedetto said Traxx Side has worked hard to keep police calls down to a minimum since 2008, the year the village board last broached the subject of doing away with 4 a.m. licenses.
At that time, the village board relented and allowed those taverns with 4 a.m. licenses to keep them. However, no new 4 a.m. licenses would be created and if businesses changed hands the 4 a.m. licenses could not be renewed.
A police survey of incidents requiring a police response since 2010 showed that Traxx Side had the fewest of the three 4 a.m. license holders.
“We work hard to cultivate a good crowd from 2 to 4,” Benedetto told the village board. “We did our job; this is what we were supposed to do.”
Chris DiBraccio, the manager of Brixie’s Saloon at 9526 Ogden Ave., slammed the way the board approached eliminating licenses this time around, saying no one from the village contacted bar owners to discuss the plan or seek ideas on curbing incidents.
Prior to the board vote, he requested a meeting between the late-night license holders and village staff to discuss a compromise solution.
“If this ordinance passes, it will send a message of mistrust to whoever stands before this board and future village boards,” DiBraccio said.
Also calling for a compromise was Don Volpe, owner of the Cordial Inn, 9207 31st St. Volpe, who previously acknowledged incidents at his establishment had been a problem area for Brookfield police in the past, appeared to call for the village board to let late-night bar owners stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
“All our trouble happens on Friday and Saturday after 3 a.m., so why do we have to go back and have the whole week destroyed?” Volpe asked. “At least give us a trial. … We’ll have it down to next to nothing.”
But trustees were unmoved. Trustee C.P. Hall stated that the move away from the late-night licenses had been village policy since at least 1993.
Trustee Michael Garvey, who was village president in 2008, when the board voted to keep but gradually phase out the late-night licenses, said bar owners should not have viewed that action as any sort of promise. Rather, he said, it was a warning.
“There was no promise,” said Garvey. “The only promise being made was that things were going change and going to get better.
“The numbers that we have, there’s no making up these numbers or fudging these numbers. The percentage of calls that happen [between] 2:30 a.m. and 4 a.m., there’s no way to explain it other than this situation is unworkable.”
The village’s process for liquor license renewals begins soon, and anyone wishing to renew a license must have their paperwork in the village’s hands by Dec. 15, said Village Manager Keith Sbiral, if they want to be able to open Jan. 1, 2015.
Those holding 4 a.m. licenses will see their liquor license fee drop to $1,800 from $2,400.