Video gambling: one year later

Forest Park bars complain they're losing business

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

Nearly one year after Forest Park voters voted two to one against allowing video gambling in Forest Park in a non-binding advisory referendum, many Forest Park bar owners say that the lack of video gambling is hurting their business and making it hard for them to survive.

"I've definitely lost customers to other towns, there's no doubt about it," said Matt Sullivan the owner of Doc Ryan's, the biggest bar in town.

Sullivan says that bars in towns that allow video gambling machines can lower their prices and still make money because of the additional revenue from the video poker machines.

"The bars in other surrounding towns are dropping their food prices and beverage prices to keep their gamblers coming in," Sullivan said. "Tell me how I can compete against someone who has lower prices and is still making a profit."

Sullivan said that on a Sunday last fall he stopped by the Cordial Inn, a bar in Brookfield, and saw 20 of his former Sunday football regulars taking advantage of a great spread of food and lower drink prices.

"He's making it up on the back end," Sullivan said of the Cordial Inn bar owner.

Video gambling has been a huge success at the Cordial. State records indicate that the five video poker machines at the Cordial brought in about $20,000 in additional revenue to the bar in February. Bar owners keep 35 percent of the net proceeds from video gambling machines in their establishments.

State records show that the Cordial brings in much more video gambling revenue than most bars and restaurants that have the machines which were first legally allowed in Illinois in 2012. Most bars in Berwyn and Brookfield with the gambling machines get monthly revenue of 1,000 to $1,500 from each terminal. A maximum of five terminals can be placed in any single establishment so that most bar owners net from between $5,000 to $7,500 in additional revenue a month if they have the maximum number of machines.

Marty Sorice, who owns four bars in Forest Park, says that the average bar in Illinois that has video gambling nets from between $5,200 to $5,300 a month in revenue from the machines.

That additional revenue makes a big difference bar owners say. Not only does it go directly to the bottom line the additional revenue allows bars in other towns to undercut Forest Park bars and restaurants on price. 

"How do we compete against that," Sorice said. "We can't. And eventually what will happen is that the bars in Forest Park, one by one, they will be put at such a competitive disadvantage that they will go out of business."

"If it was just the bars it would be one thing, but it's really impacting the restaurants too," Sorice said. "There's a lot of restaurants in this town hurting. It's not only bar issue it's a food, beverage issue. In all the bars and restaurants in Forest Park I only know one or two that are up year over year and, maybe there's more and I don't know it, but we are really hurting and the thing it's just going to get worse."

A number of bars in Forest Park are for sale, including Molly Malone's.

But it's almost impossible to sell a bar that doesn't have video gambling machines says Ronald Milchhoefer Jr. who has been trying to sell R Place for six months. 

"Them not allowing video gaming has made our businesses worthless," said Milchhoefer who has owned R Place for 13 years. "Is there any single reason why anyone would want to own a bar where you can't compete on a level playing field?"

Milchhoefer points to a bar in North Riverside, The Sweet Spot, which sells buckets of beer for $11. They can afford to do that because of their revenue from video gambling, Milchhoefer says.

"I can't compete with that," Milchhoefer said. "It's absolutely destroying us. I've lost softball teams that I sponsored because they went to bars with video poker. I've lost customers. I have good friends who go to other bars. I see them there. My father plays video poker machines. I've lost numerous customers and I have nothing to bring them in."

Bar owners say that the village council should allow video poker or at least schedule another referendum. They say that the referendum took place when video gambling was new and now that it has been in effect for more than a year in communities throughout Illinois with no major problems people might view the issue differently.

Last month Elmwood Park decided to allow video gambling machines.

Village Council member Mark Hosty, who manages Healy's Westside, said that he recently talked to mayor of Countryside about video gambling.

"The mayor of Countryside was pretty clear that it's been absolutely no problems and a pretty good financial payoff for the village," Hosty said.

Hosty said that he thought the village would receive about $250,000 in additional revenue as the village's five percent cut of video gaming revenue. In 2013, the Village of Brookfield received $127,170.70 from video gambling. Berwyn got $146,389.78 and North Riverside got $21,847.89.

Commissioner Chris Harris is also in favor of allowing video gambling in Forest Park. Commissioner Rory Hoskins is opposed to video gambling. Commissioner Tom Mannix says he wouldn't mind the village council discussing the issue. 

"I wouldn't oppose bringing it up in front of the council," Mannix said. "I just don't know it would serve any larger purpose. I just don't think that there's an appetite for approving it right now especially based off the referendum results."  

And the man with the most say, Mayor Anthony Calderone, has no desire for the village council to change the status quo. The referendum vote was clear, Calderone said.

"That indication was pretty clear," Calderone said of the two to one vote against video gambling.  "None of the bar owners are part of the legislative body of the village. I understand and respect their position. I believe that the elected officials felt that there was a strong enough feeling resonating as a result of that non-binding referendum to just leave it status quo."

Calderone said no elected officials have told him that they want the village council to take a vote on allowing video gambling.

"At this point in time there has been no desire to overturn the current prohibition of gambling in Forest Park," Calderone said. "None of the elected officials have indicated to me that they would like to see this type of legislation, so that's where we're at."

Many believe that Hosty would have to recuse himself from any vote on video gambling because of his association with Healy's so as long as Calderone and Hoskins are opposed to video gambling it is not likely to pass the village council. And as long as Calderone doesn't want the village council to take up the issue it is unlikely that the village council would even vote on the issue.

"The mayor controls the agenda," Hosty said. "It's all up to Tony whether or not it gets on that agenda." 

And with village elections just one year away Hosty recognizes that Calderone and others wouldn't want to take the politically risky step of allowing something two thirds of voters, admittedly in a small-turnout election, voted against.

"From the political side it's a tough vote," Hosty said.

Hosty said that if video gambling was allowed in Forest Park it would not be the salvation of the bar business in Forest Park. 

"I know there are a lot of upset bar owners; I don't think gambling is the only thing that's going to save their butts," Hosty said.

"It's been a tough economy for the last four or five years. The restaurant and bar business has taken it upon the chin. It's disposable income. We have outside competition in other communities like Rosemont that's popped up with a nice district there. I don't think gambling one way up or down is going to save our industry. It's a facet and it could help."

Calderone said that he knows business is soft on Madison Street, but is not sure how big a factor the lack of video gambling is. 

"I don't know that I would necessarily attribute it to video gaming as I would more so the economy in general," he said.

"Nobody has given me copies of their tax returns and how bad business may be and how far it's dropping off, if it has dropped off based on previous years and did that business drop of before they even officially allowed the machines to go into the establishments," he added.

Calderone said that Rosemont is successful not because of video gambling.

"I've been at that Rosemont development," Calderone said. "That's hopping not because of video gaming. It's hopping because it's a new, large scale entertainment district." 

Many bar owners are frustrated with Calderone's attitude.

"He won't give anybody a straight answer," Milchhoefer said. "He won't put it on the agenda. He's king and our hands are tied because he's also the liquor commissioner. His decision to do nothing on this has really threatened all of our businesses in town."

Reader Comments

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jerry from forest park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 12:10 AM

Bill, Observer, you guys are scaring me, civil discourse . It is nice to see.


Posted: April 8th, 2014 11:34 PM

@ Bill ...Thanks...hopefully when you cut through all the B.S. here, everyone wants what is best for least I hope so..Back to the Walking Dead..just started watching totally addicted ;)

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 8:43 PM

Good article, Obs. And good work by the dreaded 'media filter.' The S-T states "the machines have lived up to the hype on an individual basis.' That 'state officials predicted each machine would net between $70-$90 in revenue (daily). The average so far is $94, records show.' In Feb. 2013, 4,353 terminals generated revenue of $4 million ?" more than any Chicago-area casino except Rivers. A year later, 14,859 VG terminals sent $13.2 million to state and local (coffers). Do the math for yourself.


Posted: April 8th, 2014 8:08 PM

Here is an interesting article on video gaming & profits generated and how some estimates are not meeting expectations while others flourish:

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 6:58 PM

Awww, shucks, Food/Bev, thanks. I do manage to rise above my goof status sometimes. FWIW, this is a recent memo to the Park Ridge village council from its law firm regarding the legal ins and outs of an advisory referendum--- --- You need signatures on petitions totaling 8% of the number of votes cast in FoPa in the last gubernatorial election to get the issue before voters again. I voted no last time. But I'm open to changing my mind.

A Food/Bev Owner from Forest Park  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 12:50 PM

@ To the Lisagor Award winner- Your 10:28 am post offers a path we would be very smart to follow. This especially goes for all the restaurants that desperately want (need) video gaming. The food/beverage group need to quit blaming the politicians and voters and start making a case to the village. It can be done.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 10:36 AM

No, Michelle. Fast Eddie/Amy Pee was referring to me and, I think, Sharon Daly. We are, so to speak, the chosen ones. I've already put it on my FoPa Forums screen, and I'm seriously thinking of putting it on a t-shirt; something like, 'Outspoken Gentiles Who Originated From Oak Park Unite!'

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 10:28 AM

To recap the coherent parts of the conversation that has taken place here so far: There's concern that Madison St. is hurting economically. The bars want the village to help address the perceived problem. Some bar owners say revenue from video gambling would be very helpful. I recommend that they marshall all relevant facts related to VG, and that Main Street or bar owners organize an informational event and/or forum. If the situation is as dire as presented, get proactive, get the facts out.

Michelle W. from FP  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 10:21 AM

I was hoping that the "Gentile" comment was aimed at me, at least in part. I mean, it is true that I'm not Jewish (probably not genteel either), though I am going to my first Seder this year. I'll ask them how they feel about VG.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 9:42 AM

Youza! You must feel better after that screed, Pee. Gotta say, I've been called a few names in my time, but "outspoken Gentile who originated from Oak Park" takes the prize. And I'M the one who 'only makes sense to (my)self'? Just how many drinks did you have during the NCAA game?

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 7:25 AM

agree that this thread has been wonderfully not-insane, until 11:37 last night.

Michelle W from FP  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 6:11 AM

@FastEddie, so the Mayor's forum was the end all on the subject? The comments here have been (at least 50%) surprisingly not idiotic. I'm glad to see that other people are grappling with this issue. Like many in FP I don't have a moral issue with gambling, but I have a negative impression of bars who lean on VG rather than awesome drink and/or food. I also have questions about the extent that it is profitable in the long run for both bars & the town.

Fast Eddie from FoPo  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 11:42 PM

Part 2, so the 2 most outspoken Gentiles who originated from Oak Park have landed in FoPo and tell the community how to do business. The question is if it was so good in Oak Park why did you leave? No doubt Billy will fire back with some kind of snarky comment as it is his MO. Fire away Billy, not offending us, in fact we like your comedy. And yes you are a comedian, and your snarky and you only make sense to yourself.

Fast Eddie from FoPo  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 11:37 PM

Seriously, most of the comments on this subject are idiotic starting with Bill Dwyer and working its way thru. Bill professes to be in the know, or know it all, or reported it all, or covered it elsewhere, or whatever crazy opinion he has. He is a goof. This subject has been covered ad nausium for a year now. And by the way the mayor held a public forum ( I don't think Billy was there, or Sharon Daly for that matter) so where do they get their info from?


Posted: April 7th, 2014 5:56 PM

....seriously did someone hijack their parents this squabbling the work of "children" ? hard to believe it's middle aged adults & older....get a hobby

B. Glad from Forest PArk  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 4:40 PM

@Real Name is Benjamin G. thus the B Glad- I am not the one of the others you think I am. I did not use my name because with the narrow thinking I did not want to prejudice my views thinking I am posting up to knock one pub with another. I just want to give my view about VG and that I am against it, and the voters, voted against it. My view is clean up the streets don't count on moneys not earned. And I wanted to see if the owners in the article are listening to what people are saying.

jerry from forest park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 3:01 PM

Hey reader, why don't you post my real name also, maybe you can post yours too. As for VG, I was against it, I had a friend in town and had a gambling problem, this would have hurt her very much.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 2:47 PM

Get off it, Reader. FoPa Watcher is who he is, and he isn't any other post tag here. If you compared the writing styles you'd realize that. Btw, since it's so important to you to name names, you have my person to out me. Oh, wait---

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 2:46 PM

@ reader . I am the only one posting for me. So please don't over think this. Again my point was BH is not a FP town treasure it is a dumpy bar. That is all plain and simple. Then you question who I am. I live and shop and vote in this town and I voiced my opinion. I gave my opinion what I think are treasures. Then to make it clear I don't care about VG. It is not going to be great winfall of money. But I do agree put a good product out and people will come.


Posted: April 7th, 2014 1:33 PM

Answer me right here using your phony Facebook page @fopowatcher aka watcher aka really aka glad aka Wm watcher. Nice touchanswering yourself! With your permission i will publish yours and ruins real name

FoPa Watcher  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 10:43 AM

Here we go again, anonymous comments commenting on anonymous comments. For what it's worth, this is my first comment on this article. Sorry "In Ruins". It's possible that there is somebody out there posting under multiple names, but it ain't me. As to the quality of comments here, I'd say that 99% of the fouling comes from people like you attacking others, personally, rather than the content of their posts. That said... I'm not in favor of video gambling. Drinking and gambling is a bad idea in general. I think it's short-sighted and more than a little dishonest to suggest that gambling is good for business, let alone, good for Forest Park; now or ever. The article cites TWO bar owners who want it and a third wearing his commissioner hat who's never understood "conflict of interest". Hardly the kind of depth needed to reach an understanding. While much of Mad St. has upped its game, food and beverage-wise, a staunch few have held to the traditional Mad Street bar-business model, open the door, serve alcohol and mop the floors from time to time. Adding video gambling to that recipe is one-sided. If every bar has video gambling, how does that help the town? I don't think the council should put it on the ballot again. The voters spoke. If the proponents want to go through the process to vote again, they're free to do so. That's fair.

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 10:19 AM

As for not going to BH in a LONG time, beause i don want to. I want to spend my money at the places I want to, be with my friends and family. It is the power capitalism! I spend my dollars in FP because I want to; I want to support the local business. That is what makes the free market work. It does not matter what business it is if the product is not consumable by the buying public it fails. It's that simple. With or without VG as the fix. My opinion and only MY opinion only.

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 9:49 AM

@Laughing Hysterically, That is funny. "Do as I Say, Don't do as i Do" signed "In ruins from Forest Park"

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 9:38 AM

That is why I love this country we all have a voice. As for you thinking I am Watcher, or B Glad or Wm Wilcox. I am not! I just read these comments and said my opinion. "That BH is not a town treasure" I stated that the voters voted it down. I never gave my Comment on VG. My statement as a home owner, tax payer, FP patron father and Voter is I don't care. But if people want to change things do by the vote. God Bless America.

Laughing Hysterically  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 9:09 AM

To "In Ruins"....for someone who wants the Review to make people post under their real names and then posts as "in ruins". Do you even see how idiotic you sound? Why don't you go first?

In ruins from Forest Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2014 7:50 AM

@Watcher, AKA; Really, B Glad & Wm Wilcox: It appears Mr Dwyer is proposing a plan of action while you post under multiple names, passing judgment on a business that you admit you haven't been in for 20 yes. You are ruining the Review comment section the same way you ruined the forum. Review, why don't you at least try making people post with their real names? I'll bet you'll get a better discussion.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 6th, 2014 8:50 PM

Couple things, Really. I'll voice any opinion I please on this forum, without regard to whether it meets with your approval. I don't necessarily disagree with Mayor Calderone on the VG issue. I disagree with his cowardly refusal to stand up and voice a coherent argument on the important issues facing the village. And people who disagree with the manner in which some elected officials conduct public affairs aren't obligated to themselves run for office. But thanks for sharing your point of view.

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2014 8:07 PM

To everyone-I just stated that BH is not a town treasure. It looks like a dump. I was a dive20 years ago when I went there. Now it's just a dump. And no matter how much you sugar coat it VG in the FP, BH will still be a dump. And DOC's will still be dirty and other spot will still have Police calls and other problems. VG is just a placebo to the real problems of these failing establishments.

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2014 8:00 PM

@ Bill don't make this a forum to dump on Calderone and Hosty and Mannix and others that you clearly oppose in their political views. The votes of the town clearly voted No to VG. Bill if you want to change the system get elected and change things.


Posted: April 6th, 2014 7:55 PM

@observer your spending so much time at Healys that you don't realize really and most of the other negative posts are from watcher

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 6th, 2014 4:19 PM

I agree in general with you, wondering. But don't mix apples and oranges. FoPa turned away from the fireworks and Summerfest for different reasons, having to do with security and out of town jerk offs who thought the laws didn't apply to them. If Calderone and Hosty and Mannix were true leaders, they'd facilitate a village wide discussion about the pros and cons of VG. Whether that's because they think that's below them, or, as I suspect, they're not up to the task, it's a disservice to FoPa.


Posted: April 6th, 2014 4:16 PM

I'm with (Really) on this one...calling Blueberry Hill a town treasure? I support the owner of BH, however, you've gone too far with the treasure comment ;0 If we are talking structures as treasures, The Frank Lloyd Wright district is a worthy contender..

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2014 4:01 PM

@Curious, simple answer is YES, I do. Long answer is I was going to the bars when I was single, Now married we go out to the bars. Bought a home in FP 9+ years ago had 2 children. Yes I still go to the bars. FP to watch a ball game or 2,I Take my Wife out to dinner in FP restaurants, I take my kids to the Brown Cow, Buy my Hardware @ Schauer's, Cigars@Casa de Puros,Paint@Paulson's, Food @ Ed's Way. I look down Madison St. It is looking like a place to be.Upscale DT distinction. Keep it up FP!


Posted: April 6th, 2014 2:15 PM

Do we really want to lose Madison Street because we wont come together as a community? Some may not live here but all have invested. Lets try to find a way to come together and make FP the destination it used to be!


Posted: April 6th, 2014 2:11 PM

Our neighbors say let them go out of business. Either way FP loses. Is this what we want? More vacant store fronts or the fear of what may take them over ie R PLACE? After talking with many business owners they dont seem to feel VG is the answer. They do feel they could use it as a stimulus to rebuild and create better establishments for a better FP. We have allready lost the SUMMERFEST and FIREWORKS what more do we have to lose before we realize their is a problem?


Posted: April 6th, 2014 2:04 PM

Perhaps instead of constantly arguing and debating the VG question why dont we try to come together and find a solution? Whether u think the businesses arent hurting because u havent seen our TAX RETURNS you r wrong. Wether u wont admit other towns have taken our FP business because they offer newer and better priced establishments u r wrong. The other towns have the VG and can do this! There-in lies the problem.Many dont have the money to invest or compete with cheaper pricing.


Posted: April 6th, 2014 1:56 PM

After talking and listening to sides of the VG issue it appears to me that everyone wants the same thing. A better FOREST PARK. On the one side you have the restaurant and beverage business which is on a steady decline and the other which is neighbors that say VG is not wanted. Finally you have commissioners for and a mayor who wont handle the situation because election time is approaching and they are afraid of losing their jobs if they deal with the situation. The DO NOTHING approach.


Posted: April 5th, 2014 11:28 AM

They prefer to keep us in the dark like mushrooms.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 5th, 2014 9:10 AM

That's the app, Surprised. The fact remains that, no matter how sophisticated a technology is, you have to have an intelligent point to make it it's to mean anything. This crew has shown they have little to say. The result is that the public continues to hear about things related to village hall decisions and actions through the 'media filter' that Tom Mannix likes to disparage. Apparently the so-called leaders at village hall don't respect the public enough to make the effort to communicate.


Posted: April 5th, 2014 8:27 AM

@really, do you go to the bars in Forest Park or elsewhere? Which ones? If not, why do you care if they offer VGing?

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2014 7:43 AM

Blueberry Hill is a town treasure? Please! Bars and restaurants are not treasures, books in the library are treasures, People in the town are treasures, the old churches, the parks, the children are treasures. All this boils down to is do we want Video Gaming. The People, the voters the true treasures have said "NO". Bar Owners you lost, we the people have said "No, Thank You" and in this great land the majority rules.

Surprised not  

Posted: April 5th, 2014 7:39 AM

Bill, are you talking about the useless iPhone app? Check it out, nothing of value in it and those are not cheap to develop. Or the not utilised Forest Park Best program.....businesses listed there are gone and offers expired! Or have they wasted more on other stupid not thought out frivolous things? They do love to spend our money.

Martin M. Sorice from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 5:16 PM

@B Glad You have misread my post. I never counted on 60k a year to support my project. What I did say is this, "cold feet over being unable to calculate the cumulative competitive effect of giving 90% of our competitors a $60,000 per year subsidy."

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 4:50 PM

Yes, I know, wondering. I was asking about FOIAs of police calls for service. That's the other half of the equation. Revenue for both businesses and government are the benefit. The need for police services- if any- are part of the cost.---- I find it odd, and very questionable that a village that saw fir to spend $15,000 on social media capabilities through a blowhard commissioner's business, does not make use of that capability to convey arguments for/against the issues it faces. Why is that?

Owen from Forest Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 4:19 PM

Before I change my mind, I'd like to see some hard numbers about how these games effect people and business. Are those numbers available anywhere?

Owen from Forest Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 4:10 PM

Blueberry Hill is a town treasure, honestly. I grew up surrounded by the bar business and I'm now learning about it all by myself -- some of you may know me. I have no moral qualms against gambling, but I seriously doubt that having the same games as the next town over will next anywhere near $5,000 a month. On average $160ish a day? Who is sitting around with that kind of money and gambling that often? I understand the convenience of gambling at your local, but this is not some Deus Ex Machine.


Posted: April 4th, 2014 3:45 PM

Mr. mayor instead of pandering to sympathetic elements of the business community why don't you meet and work with the food and beverage industry to solve the crisis they are in? Quit worrying about reelection and start addressing your community problems. Bill D I believe you can google Illinois video gaming and find all revenues for how much each bar is making and each town It is all public record

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 1:22 PM

Btw, has anyone done the FOIA work on calls for service and arrests at the various Berwyn and Brookfield bars that have video gambling? What this whole debate needs, and never had prior to the referendum vote, are FACTS. Lots of opinion and suppositions, but few facts. The benefits, i.e., how much are bar owners and local governments actually taking in and how much of an impact is it actually having on demands for police service. Both documented and anecdotal evidence have ben in short supply.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 1:17 PM

Members of the village board, who have been mostly silent on the past two major issues that faced this village in referenda, could take a lesson from Marty Sorice's responses here. They're comprehensive and honest. I'm not of one mind on the VG issue, but a calm and respectful argument like Sorice has offered in several posts now make a string case. I don't like VG, but I don't buy the argument it will turn FoPa into Pottersville ala the arrest scene in It's a Wonderful Life. Well done, Marty.

monthy payment  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 12:57 PM

@ B. Glad -- "only $5k/mo" I don't know anything about bar finances but the monthly payment on a $650k 30 yr mortgage at 5% is about $3.5K. So $5k/mo is probably in the ball park for financing his $650k. Obviously there's more to bar cash flow than his loan maintenance and VG revenue.

B. Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 11:10 AM

Let me get this straight Marty, You invested $650k so far, and your business model was counting on $60k a year to make it work? That is only $5k month from the VG.Please finish what you started put out a Clean, safe and (assuming with an Ice cream venue) family place Forest Parkers will come and spend the dollars. Look around, other places are making it work. Tonight we plan on Piggybacks. I hope when you open up your "mega" BH place we will come there and spend dollars.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 10:36 AM

From the discussion, it still sounds as tho most residents don't want FP to be 'a bar town', or more of a bar town. Also, some of the bars/restaurants just have not been good neighbors to residents.


Posted: April 4th, 2014 10:06 AM

I respect Marty & Lynn's candid response. I have never been inside BH and have always thought of it as a spot the older folk frequent. I can see why Marty is a proponent for video gaming, that would likely be a perfect fit for his establishment and demographic. I think if you continue to make a case for it, perhaps the people in town will respond. To Marty & Lynn you appear to be passionate and hardworking I hope you prevail and wish you further success!

Old Time Darter from Forest Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 10:04 AM

Old time Darter The comments concerning the FP Dart League when the Bars were part of the Windy City League Darters from the City and surrounding arrears came to FP and Spent Money The Darts were free but the bar spending grow and it keep players playing late and buying drinks. I played in the plastic tip league was ok. But Marty do some discloser you own the plastic tip boards so it was in your best interest to keep the FP league here so you made money.

Gina from FP  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 8:40 AM

Sorice's - I'm intrigued that you say 90% of your competitors have VG. So you are not competing with other FP businesses? Who are your competitors, then? I have enjoyed BH every time I've been there. I think you should raise your beer prices a little and up your marketing. We should know all the facts you wrote about without having to read it in the comment of an article here.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 8:02 AM

Now that is a righteous rant! And an interesting inside look into a business most of us don't know about. Thanks, Marty & Lynn.

Martin M. Sorice from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 3:31 AM

Someone commenting on this article mentioned peeling paint. Since the inside was recently painted they must be referring to the ""peeling paint" outside on the South side of the building. The reason this is left is that we were asked by several historical enthusiasts to preserve it since it is one of the last "ghost" murals in Forest Park. We have kept it that way on purpose. Google "Forest Park Ghost Mural" to see a picture of it. To anyone this offends we are sorry. Finally, 4 years ago we purchased the building Blueberry Hill is housed in. With the knowledge that it would be losing our tenant (meat packing company) within two years, plans were to create a whole new space. We hired an architect who drew up the plans for a restaurant, ice cream parlor, coffee house in front, karaoke/entertainment/sports bar/restaurant in back. We then did the demolition of the old meat packing company and updated the electrical service. With the purchase of the building at this point we are $650,000 into the project. Enter video gaming. Cold feet over being unable to calculate the cumulative competitive effect of giving 90% of our competitors a $60,000 per year subsidy (net video gaming average) has prevented further work on this project that we were so enthusiastic about. Many Forest Park food and beverage people share the fear that we can't overcome this disadvantage. We hope all of this works out but with (Marty's) economic background we are really afraid it won't, so for now we chose to err on the side of caution. So let the paint peel. Let the few boorish people who want to spew their hatred at us and places like ours without knowledge or facts, hide safely behind anonymity. While some of us live our lives publicly and despite the criticism, go on. We do not apologize to you for that. ~Marty & Lynn Sorice

Martin M. Sorice from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2014 3:30 AM

(part 1) We welcome this opportunity to express a different version of Blueberry Hill which is very personal to us. Some facts that make Blueberry Hill unique; in the mid 80's we became one of the first bars in the US to have a compact disc jukebox. We bought the demonstrator model from the Restaurant Show (Seeburg SCD1 we think). In the same tradition, in 2013 we bought one of the first 500 online dart boards in the United States. If you come to Blueberry Hill you can play a game of darts with a person a thousand mile away and actually see them while you are doing it! Blueberry Hill has been a meeting place for friendly locals and out of towners alike since its opening. A great neighborhood bar. In over 30 years of business Blueberry Hill has never been cited for serving a minor, or for selling cigarettes to one despite stings to elicit such a result. Blueberry Hill once went somewhere between 8 an10 years without getting/making/needing a police call, not one! The night future Mayor Calderone defeated then Mayor Popelka, both were together in one place, Blueberry Hill. Blueberry Hill runs the Forest Park 8 Ball and 9 Ball Leagues. Its unique handicapping system now is used in several other areas. It also has created two Forest Park dart leagues. These leagues are all among the few non for profit leagues in all of the Chicago area. In 2014 we will be launching our first internet dart league, playing against teams from all over the county! Blueberry runs dynamite karaoke parties every Friday and Saturday night. It's sister bar in Fox Lake is a full time karaoke bar often being referred to by karaoke aficionados as the best karaoke bar in the whole Chicago area! You can bring your boat or jump a water taxi, tie up to one of our piers, sing some songs and decide for yourself! Please check out our facebook pages; and


Posted: April 3rd, 2014 11:44 PM

Perhaps the polar vortex has beaten me into submission, however, I agree with Brian on this...I stop in occasionally at surrounding bars & taverns with VG and I can tell you I never see anyone gambling..those machines are always I'm not sure that is the solution.....

Forest Park Property Owner from Forest Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 8:21 PM

Surprised. All bars should be charging sales tax on drinks and food.

Gina from FP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 5:53 PM

Huh. Seems people are mostly in agreement that VG isn't going to save any of the bars and the real issue is whether or not Blueberry Hill is awesome or awful. I love it!

Brian Kuhr from Forest Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 5:19 PM

A few comments: 1) Blueberry Hill just looks like a neighborhood tavern. If that offends you, you moved to the wrong town. Karaoke nights are fun there. 2) With a bad economy, and a horrible winter, it is disingenuous to blame a downturn in business entirely on lack of video poker. 3) Like others here, I don't want bad restaurants/ boring bars staying afloat with video poker machines. That's a poor business model for Madison Street. Let's promote quality establishments, not penny-ante gambling

Michelle W. from FP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 4:12 PM

I didn't bring up Blueberry Hill, someone else did with a stupid wink, nudge. As I've patronized it, it would be disingenuous to say nothing. I don't think sticking up for Blueberry Hill makes me a bleeding heart. Unless it's a hotbed of liberal activity I was unaware of? This should have been a dialogue on citizen self determination and business rights. Instead it's being chewed up by annoying bar owners & ridic commentators taking pot shots at bars. You'd all be easier to handle with a pint.


Posted: April 3rd, 2014 3:16 PM

Be careful at Shanahan's. Even while sitting at the bar, they charge you tax on your beverages. If you just pay as you go (for your beverages while sitting at the bar), You will save the tax (9% right?).

B. Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 3:02 PM

Every Poster has good points but the bottom line is the old dirty out of date and unsafe bars are not going to get the people in the door with VG. Owners get the point all the places that are getting the consumer dollars are the place that put out quality products in a clean, safe and enjoyable establishment. A couple of other venues worth noting are O'Sullivans, and Kevil's. So FP say no to VG and yes to clean, fresh and safe to spent our dollars!.

Oak Parker  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 2:28 PM

We frequent Piggy Back, Fat Duck, Skrine's, Scratch and occasionally Shanahan's as a couple. Video gambling has never entered my mind (I didn't even know it was banned). Good businesses will survive on quality service and product, not $11 buckets of beer. Discounting is a race to the bottom.

Wm Wilcox from FP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 2:24 PM

Michelle, sloppy and often wrong? There is nothing that is not factual about my posting, if I had more space I could have listed the schools and such IN ADDITION to Blueberry. What is sloppy and NOT factual is your comment "BB has nothing to do with property values." As a neighbor of said property I would strongly disagree, its an eye sore, if your bleeding heart cant see that then I feel for you.


Posted: April 3rd, 2014 2:20 PM

Michelle, does Blueberry Hill serve food? But really, the owner could spruce up the outside appearance with some paint for starters. Hardly a huge expense! It just looks shoddy outside and not appealing. More like something I'd see on West Madison in the city. The kind where undesirables are hanging out front.

Michelle W. from FP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 1:28 PM

What a weird position I find myself in, defending Blueberry Hill. But BH has nothing to do with our market values. It's the school system and housing stock. That's it. And, moreover, there were owners of nicer and newer bars calling for VG as well. I just hate it when people pile on to easy targets. It's sloppy thinking and often wrong. I'm troubled because I have no moral opposition to gambling, but I want businesses driven by qualities that I find appealing, which is quality food & drink.

Wm Wilcox from FP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 1:15 PM

B Glad, those bar owners whining that the lack of VG is going to hurt them are the same owners listed below. They were the flag bearers for VG so yes it is about VG. Why reward such people. Dumps like Blueberry and Circle Inn hurt our property values and are an eyesore! There are many good establishments in FP that thrive because they offer something worth paying for.

Voter from forest park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 12:43 PM

It's funny that the voters said NO to VG. Yet a couple of elected officials think that they want to go against the vote of the people of the town that Said NO! Again thank you Mayor for listening to the voters of this town. I would like to know how some of the Owners with the large voices pushing VG voted in the Forest Park election. Readers it is a trick question because those voices don't live or vote in this town.

B. Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 11:26 AM

The article is about Video Gaming, not dirty and unsafe bars but I hope the owners are listening to the voices of the people that live in this great town. We want to spend our money in town supporting local business and we do we do in clean, safe and enjoyable venues. The idea that Forest Parker's will want to spend money in a dirty unsafe bars just because it has a VG is just not true. I commend the Mayor listening to the voters of this great town. Owners clean up your places and we will come


Posted: April 3rd, 2014 9:44 AM

The Blueberry Hill in Fox Lake is also a dump. Went one time and one time only. Kept getting bothered by the bartender's one-tooth boyfriend.

Wm Wilcox from FP  

Posted: April 3rd, 2014 9:25 AM

Marty(Blueberry), your operations are still dumps and eye sores. The paint that was chipping has now fallen, despite your valiant efforts. Those complaining about the loss of revenue should look no further than the mirror. Bad business plans and poorly run operations are the issue. There are examples of successful operations on Madison and in OP, hopefully the Blue Berry's, Molly's and Doc's are paying attention. If your business fails its the owners fault, not the lack of gambling!


Posted: April 2nd, 2014 7:39 PM

Doc Ryan's bathrooms were gross when Shaw owned the place and obviously that was something that the village inspectors thought was okay when the bar changed owners. The bathroom sinks weren't working then. Where did employees wash their hands before picking up your food. Horrible dirty place.

Mary from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 6:56 PM

The big bars in Forest Park have tried every gimmick to bring in patrons. Lobster tanks..buckets of beer..bottle service...theme nights..etc. Anything but being good neighbors to the surrounding residents and business....the same people whose shoulder they now want to cry on. Any complaints about cleanliness, noise, garbage or criminal activity have been largely ignored or blamed on another establishment. I believe our mayor is listening to his residents and rejecting this business model.

Grateful from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 6:55 PM

I thank Mayor Calderone for standing for the voters who live here who have spoken and said that video gambling is not what we want.

Michelle W. from FP  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 6:40 PM

427... word of mouth? I have friends in town that don't look down on fun. I get that it isn't slick looking but that isn't always the best factor for picking places to hang out. YMMV. I don't really care other than to prove that people in town do go there. Get over it and stop with your axe to grind with that joint. I'm glad this went to referendum. It shouldn't be any other way. Citizens should decide the character of the town.

Gina Thomas from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 6:06 PM

Is 427 Blueberry Hill? That's a cool place! But I wouldn't have known the name of it had a friend not told me about it. I do think they need a sign and some type of marketing. Use social media - it's free! I suspect even if VG was approved bars that are in trouble will remain in trouble. VG isn't going to save anybody. I have to say as a resident I'm starting to feel really weird about how bar owners are trying to muscle us into this. This is our home.

Not Heard  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 5:18 PM

A bathroom renovation costs roughly $10,000. Perhaps video gaming would allow that to happen. Breaking even = no surplus to change things up. (10K is probably low given Doc Ryan's has multiple bathrooms)

B. Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 5:12 PM

Ok "Not Heard", the business owners are not listening to the people of the town. Invest, clean up and put a good product on the street that's what we want to spend money in Forest Park. "Jim Dingle from South FP" is right on the mark, but forgot to include Old School Tavern. In the article it says that "Marty S., who owns four bars" so what has he and the other owners done to make Forest Park taverns a destination spot? Don't blame not having VG blame yourselves for not reinvesting in FP.

Kathleen from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 5:09 PM

Video gaming might attract some people, but I doubt that's the main reason why some of these places are in trouble. The weather kept many people indoors this winter, and that's surely a factor. For me, I don't go to the places I used to. Doc's is filthy and the bathrooms are disgusting. Healy's menu hasn't changed in 15 years. Several places on the street are constantly in the police blotter for fights and other issues, which doesn't make me want to go there.To me, those are the bigger issues

Not Heard  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 4:45 PM

It seems like people are not hearing what the business owners are saying. It is not necessarily the revenue from the machines but being able to use the revenue (in a bad economy) to do the things (renovate, offer entertainment, lower food costs) they could once do when economic times weren't so tough. So, in addition to offering the machines, the machine owning businesses can offer more. The town can compensate for lost revenue by raising taxes?another lose for businesses.

Jim Dingle from South FP  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 4:43 PM

Bars that sell barfood are a dime a dozen. If you are an FP bar owner and your slingin barfood, wake up maybe it's time for a change. Jimmy's, Bu hana, Fatduck & the rib joint aren't crying cause they all have a unique product nice environment & great staff. Skine's might be doing ok too but I don't go there now cause hes a union buster. Bar owners, before complaining about the gambling thing, look at your sad bars & your sorry business models. If you can't figure it out, maybe its time to go.

Ben Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 4:34 PM

So the Bar @ 427 does not need any Video Gambling to bring your business in the door. The point of the comment is bringing bar goers coming in the door. And 427 address does not look welcoming to a new customer or keeping new customers coming back it looks old and run down. I don't think video gaming is going to make people rush in the door there or any of the old tired spots and as for naming bars, The article did that not my comments.


Posted: April 2nd, 2014 4:31 PM

Some very good points brought up in this article. However, Mr. Hosty might have hit the nail on the head - "video gambling is not the salvation of the bar business". I think that instead of spending your money on flyers to promote your cause for VG, you might pool you resources and hire a Restaurant/Bar consultant. As a former regular on the "street of dreams", your establishments are stale, dirty and out of date. There is plenty of money to be spent in the area - make us want to come to you

427 thumbs down  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 3:34 PM

Michelle, what about 427 attracts you to go in through that door?

Michelle W from FP  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 2:47 PM

[raises hand} I have gone to 427 Desplaines, and plan to again, and soon. You show your lack of class by calling out specific bars, when they are all trying to get this passed. I doubt the veracity of the claim that gambling has anything to do with a lull in business (weather! hellooo!) but I don't delight in our businesses experiencing a hard season. Save the scheudenfreude for those that deserve it.

427 thumbs down  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 2:28 PM

427 Desplaines has not been attractive as long as I've lived in Forest Park! Have never ventured in and most likely never will. Who goes there? What would make someone want to go in there?

B. Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 2:25 PM

Hey go in to a longtime establishment they have not done a thing to keep people coming back. Hey the people with money to spend in the town are spending it at places that are newer and updated. Drive by 427 Des Plaines what will make a passerby want to stop in a rundown store front? It is not going to be a plastic banner that says "Video Gaming". So to all the Bar owner crying about not having Video gaming look around the town and see where people are spending money

B. Glad from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 2:17 PM

Why don't you Bar Owners look at things you can do to make people want to come back to Forest Park Taverns? Stop looking for the quick fix and invest in updating your establishments. Keep up with the treads. Do you want your customer base to sit a video gaming machines put in money and buying cheap drinks. I would think you would want people to come to your venue with friends and sit and drink and snack and spend their money at the bar buying drinks, is that not your business model, selling drin

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 1:29 PM

The video gambling bill likely wouldn't have passed the State Legislature without an opt-out provision, Steve. Part of the legislative horse trading process.

Resident from Forest Park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 1:27 PM

I'm not opposed to video gaming and would support it if given the vote (already did once), but in no way does presence or absence of video gaming influence where I go.


Posted: April 2nd, 2014 12:00 PM

I rarely go out any more but when I do, I frequent an establishment that offers video gaming. Therefore, Forest Park gets very little of my discretionary income these days. Thanks to Mayor Calderone for that!

steve from forest park  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 11:43 AM

the state has created an unlevel playing field by allowing local goverments to opt out. bar owners should enlist the help of local state officals to persue their goals. whats fair in berwyn should be fair in forest park!

Michelle W from FP  

Posted: April 2nd, 2014 11:28 AM

Are there really so many gamblers in the surrounding areas that they can close bars? Forget seniors: the hot commodity for politicians is apparently the gambling voting bloc.

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