Riverside trustees on May 7 voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that provides a bit of relief to residents, property owners and some businesses by waiving certain fees and fines during the duration of the pandemic.
Most notably, five village restaurants and its lone craft distillery won’t have to pay anything to renew their liquor licenses, which were due for annual renewal on May 1. As a result, the village will be losing out on about $7,000 in liquor license revenue for 2020, but given the circumstances, elected officials felt it was fair.
“The thought is they’re in a position where they’re not able to make any money off of their liquor license at this point, so it seemed to me that it would be the least we could do what we can for some of our most important businesses by offering them this kind of nominal relief,” said Village President Ben Sells.
The plan is for the village to resume collection of liquor license fees when they come up for renewal in 2021. The moves saves La Barra Ristorante, which had been completely closed since March 18, a total of $2,700 in liquor license fees.
La Barra, however, reopened both its Riverside and Oak Brook location for curbside pickup and delivery on May 8. The restaurant’s hours for now are 4 to 8 p.m. daily, with staff taking orders over the phone starting at 3 p.m. each day.
The Chew Chew/Sawmilly, which have been offering carryout and curbside service since the stay-at-home order went into effect in March, will realize a savings of $1,800 with the liquor license fee waiver. The Chew Chew in April also took advantage of a special takeout license for alcohol made available by the village of Riverside during the pandemic.
Mollie’s which initially shut its doors, re-opened the pub for carryout service on April 23. Right now Mollie’s is open Wednesday through Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. and is taking phone orders (708-447-2233) for carryout and delivery.
Owner Brian Carroll said the experience reopening and finding a menu more suitable for family-friendly takeout “is like opening a brand new restaurant again. In the early days of the pandemic, the business’ website domain lapsed and was purchased, forcing Mollie’s to interface with customers mainly through its Facebook page.
Not having to pay the liquor license fee, said Carroll, “definitely helps.”
“Any little bit helps. We’re down 75 to 80 percent right now,” Carroll said.
The other business getting a rebate on its liquor license fee ($350) in 2020 is Quincy Street Distillery, whose tasting room has been closed since March 17 and whose operations have partially shifted to the manufacture of hand sanitizer that it lately, due to online fundraising efforts, has been distributing at no charge to nonprofits, healthcare workers and first responders.
The pandemic has resulted in one local watering hole deciding to close permanently. On April 21, the owner of 34 East Lounge in downtown Riverside announced on Facebook that the tiny bar across the street from the water tower was closing for good.
“Unfortunately, we could not weather this global pandemic and hope other small businesses receive the necessary relief soon to survive,” the owner stated in the Facebook post. “We’ll remember our jukebox jam sessions and all the laughs that make Riverside a great place to do business.”
Penalties waived for late vehicle sticker, water bill payments
The relief package passed May 7 also included a provision that prohibits the village from shutting off any water service to customers whose bills are delinquent. The village also will not assess any late fees related to late water payments during the pandemic.
The delinquent water bills are not being forgiven, however, and when the state of emergency is lifted, those customers will have the opportunity to set up payment plans with the village.
In addition, the village won’t assess any late fees during the month of July on vehicle stickers purchased after the June 30 deadline.