The Oak Lawn Village Board unanimously approved a new liquor license classification that will allow the Cardinal Liquor Barn, on Southwest Highway, to build a private room that can be used for video gaming.
In May, at a board meeting, Trustee Robert Streit (Dist. 3) asked the board to consider allowing the business to add a bar and video gaming. Streit said that he was contacted by the business after the owner, Jim Shirazi was told by village officials that there wasn’t a classification for what he wanted to do.
“I assumed that there was some kind of miscommunication because it is a large facility that could be modified”, said Streit, who brought the issue to the village board. Streit said that facilities that have both liquor stores and bars are not uncommon and it has been a good business model over the years. He said that the business owner’s request was a “reasonable one” and asked the staff to meet with the owner and determine what modifications would have to be made.
Streit said that the owner told him that he had paid $3 million dollars in taxes and was finding it difficult to compete. Streit noted that the business has plenty of parking and sits on a properly zoned property.
Based on the meeting, the Village’s economic development director and village manager began discussions with the owner and developed a plan that was acceptable to the village staff as well as the business owner.
Shirazi plans to build an 18-foot-by-14-foot private room to house the allowable five video gaming machines. He plans to serve liquor, coffee, soft drinks, snacks and offer video gaming as a secondary part of his business, which he told the village saw a decrease in sales.
At the same meeting, Mayor Sandra Bury noted there are 143 terminals at 30 locations in the village, and that patrons are pumping millions of dollars each month into the machines. “It’s really proliferating,” she said, referring to the business of gaming.
Bury, who was reportedly involved in the discussions regarding the new license classification said at the board meeting that there could have been restrictions placed on Cardinal Liquor Barn beyond those agreed to unanimously by the board. However, she said that Streit did not want those restrictions.
Streit said that the restrictions would have made it impossible to issue the license. It also set up a funny exchange between Bury and Streit when Bury asked if Streit wanted to comment on her statement.
As Streit responded to Bury they agreed that the restrictions wouldn’t have worked with Bury saying “right” and “yes” as Streit spoke. Then Bury, apparently forgetting about a recent license, asked, “Is there any other establishment that you can think of that serves liquor that doesn’t serve food”?
Streit responded by reminding Bury that she had recommended a license for “Lawler’s”, also on Southwest Highway. In January, the Board approved a liquor license for that establishment, which doesn’t sell food. Bury responded, “I’m sure they have chips or something there”? She then appeared to stare at Streit who answered “ok”.