The Park Ridge City Council voted 5-2 to create a new “Class M” liquor license, at the request of Whole Foods, which intends to open a store near Touhy Avenue and Washington Street.
The vote came over the objections of several neighbors who waited through more than two hours of discussion on other topics at the Nov. 7 city council meeting to have their say.
The new kind of license will allow Whole Foods to sell package liquor throughout the store, provided it devotes no more than 20 percent of its floor space to liquor sales. It also will allow the store to have two indoor areas and one patio area where beer and wine – as well as food – would be served for on-site consumption.
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It was these indoor and outdoor “bars” that drew an outcry from the neighbors.
“I don’t see why we have to have a special liquor license category so Whole Foods can have a bar,” said Roger Ginger, whose wife, Irene, also spoke.
“There have been a number of residents who have expressed concern,” said Caroline Backer. “I haven’t seen one resident come up here and say they think it’s necessary to have this expanded liquor license at the Whole Foods store.”
Second Ward Ald. Richard DiPietro agreed that there has been no public demand for a new class of liquor license.
“I don’t believe the city of Park Ridge needs a Class M license,” said Di Pietro, one of two aldermen to vote against it. “I have not had one Park Ridge resident contact me via phone, via email, no one has said we need a Class M license.”
Even so, he said, he wishes Whole Foods well.
Third Ward Alderman Jim Smith echoed his sentiments when he explained his no vote.
“I am all in favor of having Whole Foods here, but setting up a special liquor license just for them, that practically no one else could qualify for, strikes me as unfair,” Smith said. “I think the ordinance as it is is unfair to small businesses.”