Neighbors OK Happy Village dining plan

Dimitrios Christopoulos, Cherlyn Pilch and Andrew Miller address Happy Village neighbors.

By a show of hands, neighbors agreed with a prospective new owner's plans to add food service at the Happy Village tavern, with homes replacing the adjoining game room.

"There are still some questions," said Ald. Brian Hopkins, who must guide a liquor license transfer through the Liquor Control Commission and City Council. "If you live near Happy Village we absolutely want to hear from you."

The vote was opened to all 55 people attending the Oct. 1 East Village Association membership meeting, many of whom lived near the bar at 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

Hopkins said he would reimpose a license freeze and downzone the adjoining building, leaving the bar as the block's only commercial property.

Lawyer Dimitrius Christopoulos put a $3 million price on the project.

Ald. Brian Hopkins said the Happy Village vote would help him reach a decision. EVA President Michael VanDam presided.

A sunroom would enclose part of the patio space, said buyer Andrew Miller, creating restaurant seating for 50. In previous meetings, Miller has suggested a menu of burgers, salads, chops and pasta, with prices topping out at $27.

Miller said he will restore the corner bar exterior, which is part of the East Village Landmark District, and convert the attached building to condos.

A draft plan of operation outlines steps to reduce the impact on neighboring homes. The advisory vote was to lift a license moratorium on the block, the first step in the sale. Michael VanDam, EVA president, said the group sought to incorporate comments made in an Aug. 6 open meeting.

A sale that keeps the current setup intact is "not on the table," VanDam said. Christopoulos argued that petition requirements made neighbor consent for the license transfer "functionally impossible."

Parking and delivery limits were open issues, Hopkins indicated, agreeing with a decision not to use a valet. Neighbors suggested residential parking restrictions, angle parking or speed bumps as traffic options.

Current zoning would allow a 24-hour restaurant or other business use that could be more disruptive, Hopkins said. Still, comments to his office had been "running hot and cold" on the tavern plan. "I'm willing to say no," Hopkins said. "If I do that, we move into the unknown."

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