Chicago's liquor license restrictions

By John Scheer

Eddie Ratwan of Damen & Augusta Food, 1001 N. Damen, is asking to speak at the Jan. 8 East Village Association meeting. The convenience store is seeking EVA consent in obtaining a liquor license to sell package goods.

This article is designed to provide the background and description of restrictions for new liquor licenses in our neighborhood. This is informational only.

The City of Chicago has provided a method of limiting the issuance of new liquor licenses in order to control the mix of businesses in any specific neighborhood. The limitation must clearly describe the location in two block increments, such as, on Chicago Avenue from Ashland Avenue to Wood Street. And it must specify the type of liquor license.

In simple terms, there are two types of liquor licenses that could be restricted. One is termed "for consumption on premise" and can be more commonly considered a tavern license. The second is termed "package sales" and relates to convenience stores or businesses providing cash and carry sales of liquor.

The restriction cannot limit existing license holders, new incidental licenses (restaurants) and a few other types of licenses. Once approved, the restriction and area description is enacted into an ordinance that can be found on

Look under Title 4 Businesses, Chapter 4-60 Liquor Dealers and sub-chapters 022 and 023 that contain all of the described areas. You may be surprised about how many neighborhoods all across the city have restrictions. An unofficial count tallied over 3,400 two block descriptions.

Over eight years ago, East Village members approved restrictions on new liquor licenses for the area described by the East Village boundaries. All interior and border streets between Chicago to Division and Ashland to Damen were included in the two-block descriptions.

In almost all cases, these street descriptions restricted new tavern and package licenses. The one exception was directed by the Wicker Park community group so that the North side of Division street was restricted for only new package licenses.
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