Joliet revisits downtown ban on one-can beer sales

Owners of three liquor stores say they are unfairly singled out

The city is reexamining a ban on single-container beer sales at downtown area liquor stores.

Members of a council committee this month agreed with three liquor store owners who said the restriction puts them at a disadvantage with competitors within walking distance but outside the boundary lines of the ban.

The competition includes the new Thorntons gas station at Jackson and Collins streets, which was given a special license by the city to sell liquor.

“It’s something that’s very frustrating,” said Sonny Trivedi, owner of Jackson Liquors, which is under the ban while the Thorntons station up the street is not.

The other two stores affected by the ban on single-serving containers are Ranch Liquors, located kitty-corner from City Hall, and Mimi Liquors on Cass Street. The ban was enacted in 2012.

The main impact now, the store owners said, is that it prevents them from selling beer in 24-ounce cans and 40-ounce bottles that can be bought everywhere else in Joliet.

“It should be a level playing field. There’s no doubt about that,” Councilman Herb Lande said when the matter was considered at the Feb. 9 meeting of the Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee.

The discussion at times turned to the original reasons for the ban, which was said to be partially related to public urination occurring downtown.

“If they’re going to pee on the street, they’re going to pee on the east side, west side, north side, south side,” Lande said.

Jack Bashir, owner of Ranch Liquors, said the ban was originally directed at his store and also involved complaints about litter, which he considered unjustified.

“Where’s the litter?” Bashir said. “I don’t see it in the parking lot at my store? If it’s in the street, I pick it up.”

Councilman Larry Hug said there also was an issue with people drinking outside the Will County Courthouse when the ban was enacted 12 years ago.

The new courthouse that opened last year is across Jefferson Street from Ranch Liquors.

However, Hug, who chairs the Economic Development Committee said a change or repeal of the ordinance enacting the ban should be handled by the council’s Land Use and Legislative Committee.

The matter will be taken up by that committee, which includes two of the three members of the Economic Development Committee: Lande and Terry Morris.

Morris, chairman of the Land Use and Legislative Committee, also said it may be time to change the ordinance.

“There were some issues 12 years ago that may not be here now,” Morris said, noting that more businesses have opened nearby selling liquor.

The ban applies to stores inside or within 1,000 feet of a Tax Increment Financing District set up to provide economic incentives for the downtown area.