Ald. Pat O'Connor: Let the booze flow earlier on Sunday mornings - New York News

Alderman: Let the booze flow earlier on Sunday mornings

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Chicagoans could do their Sunday morning booze shopping three hours earlier, under a change in the works by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Council floor leader.

Ten years after relaxing Chicago's liquor law to give people an early start on Sunday champagne brunch, Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) wants to permit the sale of "package goods liquor" at 8 a.m., instead of 11 a.m. on Sunday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The change stems from O'Connor's efforts to lure a new grocer into the site of a now-shuttered Dominick's on Lincoln Avenue just north of Foster Avenue.

"I've been talking with people who own grocery store chains. I'm kind of getting a primer on how grocery stores make money and don't make money and this came up. If they're leaving revenue on the table and they could make more money from something so simple, it's worth looking at," O'Connor said.

"If somebody is out doing shopping for a Super Bowl party in February or a Sunday picnic in June, having to do that after 11 a.m. is a little bit silly if it could be done at 8 a.m. You're not serving it at a bar. This is for home consumption or family-type events. What difference does it make if you can buy it" three hours earlier?

O'Connor acknowledged that the change "might be a little controversial," particularly with those who wanted liquor stores excluded from the Sunday brunch law.

"I realize that some people may not want this to be available to smaller venues. Maybe they're selling on Sunday morning to folks who haven't gone home Saturday night. But, there are ways to approach that," O'Connor said.

"We could have a minimum square footage [where 8 a.m. sales would be allowed]," he said. "We could impose an additional license fee."

Over the years, the City Council has steadily loosened the city's grip on Sunday liquor sales.

In 2004, aldermen agreed to roll back Sunday liquor sales — from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m. — to accommodate Sunday brunch. Package liquor stores were excluded amid concern the stores would serve up a liquor brunch of six-packs and booze.

Two years later, the Sunday liquor law was relaxed again, this time to let Chicagoans start shopping for booze for their Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve parties at 8 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. The change was made to accommodate the calendar. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve fell on Sunday that year.

In 2011, patrons of dozens of outdoor patios and rooftop gardens in downtown Chicago were allowed to indulge until midnight, instead of 11 p.m.

During the 2004 debate, Michael McCotter, the Chicago Police Department's then-commander of special events, expressed concern that the rollback in Sunday liquor sales — from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m. — would cause all-day drinking headaches at events like the Gay Pride and South Side Irish parades, not to mention Cubs games.

"If we open an hour early, we're going to deal with police-related issues an hour earlier and, possibly, more intensified issues at the end of the day," McCotter said then.

Then-South Side Ald. Shirley Coleman (16th) agreed, adding, "It should not be forced down [the throat of] a ward like mine, that does not need an additional hour of alcohol."

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