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Uptown in the News  

March 31, 2004
Chicago Free Press
House backs 'Big Chicks' bill
By Gary Barlow, staff writer

A bill pushed by Ill. state Rep. Larry McKeon (D-Chicago) to prevent the City of Chicago from closing Big Chicks, a longtime Uptown GLBT bar, passed the Illinois House March 23.

The bill changes the state liquor code to allow for a bar if its primary entrance and the primary entrance of a house of worship are more than 100 feet apart, separated by an alley and the leader of the religious institution does not object.

Big Chicks has been open 18 years at 5024 N. Sheridan, where a previous bar operated since the 1940s. It sits across an alley from Agudas Achim Synagogue, 5029 N. Kenmore.

When Big Chicks owner Michelle Fire tried to get a liquor license for her restaurant, Tweet, a few doors south of Big Chicks, Chicago Liquor Control Commission officials realized both Tweet and Big Chicks were ineligible for liquor licenses because of their proximity to Agudas Achim.

City proceedings against Big Chicks are on hold and the bar has remained open.

McKeon's measure, co-sponsored by Reps. Harry Osterman, Sara Feigenholtz and John Fritchey, all Chicago Democrats, and Angelo Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), was written specifically to allow a license for Big Chicks.

The measure is now before the Illinois Senate, with Sen. Carol Ronen (D-Chicago) as chief sponsor.

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