Brookfield trustees voted unanimously to create a new beer/wine liquor license for Tom-n-Lou’s Drive In, 8819 Ogden Ave., on June 28. And while the business is now allowed to sell beer to carryout customers or those choosing to eat at one of the tables in Tom-n-Lou’s fenced-in outdoor patio, you won’t be able to snag a can of beer via the drive-thru window just yet.
While village officials a couple of week earlier suggested that drive-thru alcohol sales would be allowed, they’ve decided to prohibit such sales until they get an opinion from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
“After the board meeting [on June 14 where the license was first discussed], I did some research and didn’t find anything in the state Liquor Control Act which specifically referenced drive-thru windows or windows in general,” said Kathryn Angell, the village’s management analyst.
Because Lacey Mizell, owner of Tom-n-Lou’s must also obtain a liquor license from the state of Illinois, Angell said the issue of whether drive-thru window sales are allowed will be addressed at that time.
“We’re just covering our bases right now to get that opinion,” Angell told elected officials on June 28. “However, when we release this license to them it will not allow the sales through the drive-thru window, because there’s no purview to do so yet.”
If the state allows drive-thru alcohol sales as part of Tom-n-Lou’s license, said Angell, the village of Brookfield may also need to amend its code to address drive-thru sales of alcohol specifically.
Mizell said she was going to further research the issue, saying that if drive-thru sales are not expressly forbidden in the state liquor code, she will argue it’s allowed.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to defend my right to do such a thing,” Mizell said. “It’s just something catchy. I don’t think most of my customers will even be buying alcohol.”
Mizell pointed to the widespread practice when COVID-19 emergency orders were in place, both in the city and suburbs, of restaurants and bars offering cocktails to go, as an example of why the drive-thru sales ought to be allowed.
“I do think I have a bit of room to argue for this,” Mizell said. “It’s going to be a little bit of an uphill battle.”
In the end, Mizell, said, the village needs to be innovative in order to revitalize business districts like the one along Ogden Avenue. The drive-thru beer sales would be a quirky, attention-getting amenity.
“The [Ogden Avenue] corridor will only improve if you give business owners the ability to make money,” Mizell said.