The Bar Hours They Are A-Changing


The final grant of approval at last Monday’s (May 3) City Council meeting of the City’s first Class B-2 liquor license – permitting alcohol to be served until 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, at the urging of the new O’Reilly’s Irish Pub owners Ed Berry and Declan Stapleton – may be a harbinger of more changes to come for our bedroom community.  Or at least some people think so.

Back in April when the B-2 license passed a first reading, Ald. Rich DiPietro (2nd Ward) questioned the path such a license might be sending the community down when he cast the lone vote against the measure because fellow opponent Ald. Don Bach (3rd Ward) was absent.

“The changes in this B-2 far exceed the 2 a.m. liquor issue,” he said at that time. “The quality of life here in Park Ridge is what draws people here. I would urge the mayor and the council to look carefully.”

DiPietro makes a good point, even if it’s hard to tell from his comments whether it was just an ad hoc argument directed against one particular business establishment or is actually part of a more comprehensive view he has of the community.

Just what are the defining elements of Park Ridge’s “quality of life”? 

It seems to be different things to different people.  Some say it’s the level of public safety, which could be jeopardized by the budget cuts.  Others say it’s the convenient bedroom-community location.  Still others point to its single-family residential character.

How will O’Reilly’s affect that “quality of life”?

Just like Park Ridge never had high-density, five-story mixed-use buildings in the center of town before the Uptown Redevelopment residences, Park Ridge has never had a dining/drinking establishment quite like O’Reilly’s – if only because of the expanded hours and other features it alone will enjoy, like doubling the number of permitted televisions and allowing the purchase of alcohol without food after 9:00 p.m. 

Some folks are concerned about what that will do to the “neighborhood” on that side of the tracks.  That’s a legitimate concern, although it is impossible to predict those effects because there are no comparables in Park Ridge.  Edison Park, for example, has much greater restaurant/tavern density than Park Ridge has, or will have when O’Reilly’s opens, so that’s not a reasonable comparable.

Unfortunately for those who like predictability, development in Park Ridge is going to be a process of trial and error – with good, bad and in-between results.  But so long as this community demands (or at least acquiesces in) increased development, that can’t be helped.

Several years ago we were being told by the Park Ridge business community that we needed to turn Uptown into a retail destination if the City was to have any chance of generating the extra sales and property taxes needed to provide tax relief to residents.  And we were told by those same folks that the only way to get big-time retail into Uptown was to build new, modern retail space.  So we did.

Although we haven’t seen much in the way of data from the City, that doesn’t appear to have happened.  Nobody at City Hall is claiming Uptown is throwing off bushels of tax dollars – despite the City having already borrowed and spent multi-millions on it.  So at least an establishment like O’Reilly’s isn’t costing the City millions, or locking it into years of indebtedness.

According to O’Reilly’s owners, the liquor license changes they just got are necessary for them to compete with establishments in Edison Park and Rosemont.   

That’s their vision.  Whether it’s the rest of the community’s is unclear.

And whether that vision ever becomes reality remains to be seen.