Some pushback on Ale House gambling request

Trustees wary of veering toward standalone gaming parlor

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By Bob Uphues


The owner of the Brookfield Ale House, 8900 Fairview Ave., is in the process of expanding into the storefront immediately north of his year-old restaurant/bar, but village trustees expressed some wariness last week that the plan is veering close to creating what might be construed as a standalone gambling parlor.

Steve Landrey, the owner of the Brookfield Ale House, said that isn't his intention, saying he's opening up the wall separating the two storefronts in order to connect them. On Dec. 11, Landrey outlined his plan for village officials at the village board's committee of the whole meeting.

He told trustees he'd like to obtain a license to located video gambling machines in the storefront at 3750 Grand Blvd., most recently home to an e-cigarette shop, Cignot. In addition to the machines, Landrey said he would place furniture, a communal table and a women's restroom in the space.

The décor of the Ale House would extend into the new space, said Landrey, with the intention of creating a unified business stylistically while separating the restaurant from the gaming machines.

According to Landrey, the Brookfield Ale House does a brisk business Thursday-Sunday, but finds things rather quiet from Monday through Wednesday. The additional income it would derive from video gambling makes the machines attractive, he said.

"As a businessman I'm going to pursue every option," Landrey said. "Any little revenue we can bring in is going to really, really help."

Landrey has signed a one-year lease on the roughly 1,100-square-foot space and has been working with the village's building department on the plans. Illinois Gaming Board records indicate that Brookfield Ale House applied for a state gaming license in June. That application is still pending.

In 2015, the village board voted to require any business with a liquor license to wait one year before applying for a local video gambling license. The reason for the waiting period was to weed out establishments, so-called gaming parlors, where gambling was the main focus.

Brookfield Ale House celebrated its first anniversary in mid-November, and Landrey is the first business owner to apply for a gambling license under the new, more restrictive rules imposed by the village.

While trustees generally supported Landrey's request to add video gambling to his establishment, the proposed location of a second entrance to the Brookfield Ale House – immediately next door to the new storefront – has raised some eyebrows.

Landrey said state gaming officials require the entrance to a gaming area to be observable at all times. His proposed solution was to create a new entrance at the north end of the Ale House, where those interested in gambling can enter without having to walk through the entire length of the restaurant.

"Customers that don't want to play games, they just don't want to see them or hear them," Landrey said.

The flipside of that is also true. Landrey said he has signed an agreement with Accel Entertainment, a video gaming vendor, to help him navigate the move to include machines in his business.

"The gamers traditionally don't want to come through the place, if they're just playing the games," said Landrey of the advice he received from his contact at Accel Entertainment. "True gamers, they may not want to be in the restaurant."

That concept drew some pushback from Trustee David LeClere, who said he supported Landrey's application for video gambling machines – even using the new storefront for the location. But he didn't like the new entrance.

"I think that's going to kind of turn out to be what we don't [want]," LeClere said. "Right now, I think it's an entrance to a gaming place that can get you to the Ale House."

Village President Kit Ketchmark also threw cold water on the new entrance. Restaurants, he said were a key for downtown revitalization. While video gambling can be part of that business model, Ketchmark said, standalone gaming locations are not part of the plan.

"A storefront casino does not add to our downtown revitalization, and I think the concern is that we don't want that. We want to see you succeed as the Ale House."

The village board is expected to make a decision on Landrey's application at their next meeting on Jan. 8, 2018.

Email: Twitter: @RBLandmark

Reader Comments

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Iwannabe Brian Wilson  

Posted: January 10th, 2018 7:54 AM

Also the cook county taxes on nicotine containing e-cigarette products really hurt cignot. The people using cignot we're actually more likely to stop by zoo city, Colony Games, or any other establishments much more so than any 'true gamer'....

Iwannabe Brian Wilson  

Posted: January 10th, 2018 7:45 AM

Actually there were several requests to rent the space, sadly ale House had a rider in their lease agreement that gave them first rights. The space sat open for several months because of that, not lack of interest. No more than we would welcome a bar with no dining room, do we feel that those interested solely in gambling are going to bring dollars to other local establishments. This is especially true if they are even unwilling to walk through the ale House doors to get to their gambling machines. If you want electronic games stop by galloping ghost.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: December 27th, 2017 11:53 AM

I hope the folks opposed to this are aware that live video gaming is available all around the ice cream shop. Grand Tavern has it. The Sanctuary (no longer there) had it. Irish Times has it. Why would this place having it available suddenly be so offensive?

Sara Bee  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 2:57 PM

It's disingenuous to call them "true gamers". Gamers go to Galloping Ghost, GAMBLERS will go to Brookfield Ale House. If the owners of the Brookfield Ale House are in such dire straits to NEED the "little revenue" they'd make from gambling machines, they need to reconsider their business plan.

Stephen Walker  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 10:31 AM

Well, hey, if a Vape Store and a Gambling Storefront are okay, why not open a strip club on Grand Blvd? That'll make money and generate tax revenue, if that's all you're concerned about. But the problem with permitting businesses like a gambling parlor or a strip club is that it attracts a certain clientele. And while people who like to throw their money away aren't always unsavory but some of the "true gamers" that they are hoping to attract are. And because it's extremely profitable to take money from stupid or desperate people, once you allow it it's here for good. Do you think having a gambling parlor will be good for Zoo City Treats business? I think i'd be less likely to walk my kids to Zoo City Treats if there were "true gamers" that are too serious about their gambling to do it in a restaurant milling around the area.

J Edgar Mihelic from Brookfield  

Posted: December 19th, 2017 4:21 PM

Why was a vape store ok in that place where a gambling storefront is bad? Is this where we draw the line? I say if someone wants to invest in the community, let them. I'm doubting there were others beating a path to that space. It sure beats the sad stand-alone places like what went in by Jimmy Johns and Tony's on the Lyons side of Ogden.

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