Eating and drinking establishments are a significant contributor to the local economy in St. Charles. There is little doubt that downtown St. Charles is the dining and entertainment hub in the Tri-Cities, if not all of Kane County. The establishments provide a place for residents and visitors to gather to dine and drink. They also generate a significant amount of tax revenue for state and local government entities. The current establishments generate approximately $1 million in sales and alcoholic beverage taxes for the city. The establishments also pay property taxes to support local government services and provide hundreds of jobs.
Under the city’s current codes and ordinances, Class B licenses authorize the retail sale of alcoholic liquors, or beer and wine only, for consumption on the premises, whose primary purpose is that of a restaurant or restaurant & tavern. Class C licenses shall authorize the retail sale of alcoholic liquors for consumption on the premises of a tavern, bar or saloon.
Given some of the perceptions regarding the number of tavern/bar establishments, the ’s preference to limit the number of tavern/bar licenses, and a desire to encourage more restaurants/dining in the downtown area, the City is considering action to better differentiate restaurants from taverns/bars.
Over the past several months, various modifications to the Section 5.08 of the City Code (Alcoholic Beverages) have been identified by staff and elected officials. The most significant change proposed is to modify the license classes to better define the various types of establishments that serve alcohol beverages—(1) Restaurant, (2) Restaurant/Tavern, and (3) Tavern/Bar. In addition, the hours of operation will be modified, depending on the type of establishment. A holder of a Restaurant class-license will be required to terminate liquor service at 11:59 p.m. A holder of a Restaurant/Tavern class-license or a Tavern/Bar class-license will be required to terminate liquor service at 1:59 a.m. More specifically:
- For a “Restaurant” licensed under B-1, B-4 and B-5 classes, establishment must terminate alcohol service no later than 11:59 pm. Also, require that establishment operate the full kitchen and provide the full menu of items to patrons for hours that alcohol is served.
- For a “Restaurant and Tavern” licensed under B-2, B-3, and B-6, alcohol may be served until 2 am. Establishment must operate the full kitchen and provide the full menu of items to patrons for hours that alcohol is served.
- For all Class C "Tavern" establishments, alcohol may be served until 2 a.m. Also, food/menu items shall be available at all times liquor sales are being conducted. In the event a full menu is not provided, a reduced menu, which includes only appetizers, sandwiches, snacks, hors d’oeuvres or other similar foods, shall be available.
In addition, there are slight increases in the fees proposed for tavern/bar license classifications.
On Monday, Feb. 6, the City Council's Government Operations Committee endorsed the proposed changes. City staff is now in the process of communicating with the owners and operators of the eating and drinking establishments in St. Charles to obtain their feedback regarding the proposals.
If you would like to review the proposal in greater detail, you can find it here.
Eating and drinking establishments are good for St. Charles. They provide jobs, economic activity, and tax revenue for the community. And, in this day of e-tailing and internet commerce, dining out is one segment of the retail economy that cannot be purchased via the web. It is important that the City of St. Charles continue to foster an environment that supports these types of establishments. It is also important that rules and regulations be implemented that reflect community values. We believe the proposed changes will achieve this.