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Uptown Chicago Commission Position Statement

Liquor Licenses


Residential and commercial development continues in Uptown, creating an increase in the number of business owners interested in obtaining liquor licenses. Establishments with liquor licenses have the ability to affect the community in positive or negative ways. Therefore, there is a need for a standard process to evaluate potential licensees.


There are a variety of liquor licenses and license restrictions in the city of Chicago including:

  • Liquor Moratoriums: are license restrictions, placed on package goods licenses and consumption on premises licenses (i.e., taverns, night clubs, non-restaurant cafes) by the local alderman for a defined area of the city.

  • Tavern License : allows the retail sale of alcoholic liquor in an enclosed place of business where the primary purpose of the establishment is the serving of alcohol on the premises, with any entertainment or food consumption being clearly secondary.

  • Incidental Activity License: allows the retail sale of alcoholic liquor for consumption on the premises at a place of business where the serving of these beverages is incidental or secondary to the primary activity of such businesses, i.e. restaurants, hotels, bowling alleys, theaters providing live stage performances, etc.

  • Package Goods License: allows the retail sale of alcoholic liquor that is enclosed in the original bottle, jug, can, keg, cask or other container that remains without alteration sealed and labeled by the manufacturer.

  • Public Place of Amusement License: allows an establishment to offer entertainment and charge a cover or admission fee for entrance. Examples of entertainment are: theater, live acts, live music, dancing, two or more pool tables, three or more coin operated amusement devices (excluding juke boxes).

  • Other licenses include: Club License, Caterer's License, Beer Garden License, Late-Hour License and Special Event Liquor License.

From 1990-1998, the UCC supported and participated in two successful vote dry initiatives. Vote dries are precinct-based bans on liquor sales, and are usually initiated by citizens when liquor establishments are poorly managed and/or when there is a high incidence of arrests for public drinking and disorderly conduct. The UCC continues to ask packaged goods and liquor stores not to sell the types of low cost liquors such as pints, pints and 40 oz. bottles of beer, which are commonly associated with public drinking.


UCC's overall goal for new businesses requesting liquor licenses is for the businesses to be financially sound and responsible members of the community. The UCC supports the addition of new liquor licenses using the following criteria for each license variety:

  • An Incidental Activity License will usually be supported for new and previous owners, unless the owner or the business has been the subject of complaints that call for a substantive review.

  • A Tavern License is supported if the operator has prior experience and/or has graduated from an accredited institution with a focus in restaurant management. If the operator has prior experience, the UCC will gather references from local neighbors of the previous establishment. If the former establishment is credible, without any previous problems, the UCC will support the liquor license. If the former establishment has had problems in the past the UCC will not support the liquor license request.

  • A Public Place of Amusement License will be supported after the establishment has been open for six months as a tavern. If the establishment operates the first six months without any public safety issues the UCC will support the PPA License.

The UCC will continue to monitor each establishment and will seek revocation of liquor licenses due to careless management that adversely affects the community. As Uptown continues to revitalize and the Broadway/Lawrence Entertainment District development continues, the UCC would consider participating and supporting the reversal of some of the present vote dries and liquor moratoriums.

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