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Uptown in the News  

March 31, 2004
Bill to save Big Chicks leaps hurdle in House

HB4031, a bill sponsored by state Rep. Larry McKeon (D-13th) that would save Big Chick's and Tweet in Uptown, is on its way to the state Senate, having been approved by the House on March 23.

McKeon and other elected officials and community leaders have been struggling for several months to help Big Chicks, 5024 N. Sheridan Road, and its owner Michelle Fire stay in Uptown. The city has moved to close Big Chicks and has refused to issue a liquor license to Tweet, it's companion restaurant, because they are located under 100 feet from Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation, 5029 N. Kenmore.

The little-known and rarely applied prohibition has never been a problem for Big Chicks before, but now threatens closure of the popular gay and lesbian gathering place.

HB4031 amends the Liquor Control Act to allow that a liquor license may be issued or renewed if "the primary entrance of the liquor establishment and the primary entrance of a place of worship are located at least 100 feet apart, on parallel streets, and separated by an alley, and the principal religious leader of the place of worship does not indicate opposition to the license."

In the case of Big Chicks and Tweet, the primary entrances are well over 1,500 feet apart, are on opposite parallel streets and face in opposite directions.

"The owner of Big Chicks and Tweet, Michelle Fire, has helped to build a viable business and has been a responsible neighbor," McKeon said. "It is my hope to rally support in the Senate and the governor's office so we can keep them in the community."

Other sponsors of the bill include state Reps. Harry Osterman, Sara Feigenholtz, John Fritchey and Angelo Saviano.

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