So much for business-friendly Forest Park.
Monday night in Forest Park’s council chambers, the council unexpectedly used a parliamentary maneuver to squelch a liquor license needed to open a new restaurant, Scratch Kitchen.
The council did not even discuss the issuance of a liquor license. They couldn’t because after Commissioner Chris Harris introduced a motion to consider the matter, none of the other four council members would second the motion.
No second, no discussion. No discussion, no liquor license. No liquor license, says owner Patrick O’Brien, no viable business.
There was the usual fingerpointing between and betwixt the commissioners. Commissioner Tom Mannix pointed at Commissioner Rory Hoskins saying that as the public health commissioner it was Hoskins’ role to second the motion. Now that’s funny because last month when Hoskins actually spoke up as public health commissioner and urged the village to demolish its decrepit two-flat, the reaction of colleagues was that he was speaking out of turn.
Mark Hosty, with economic interests in a rival establishment, wasn’t returning calls.
Mayor Tony Calderone, who doubles as the quite powerful liquor commissioner, did his always entertaining “Who Me!?” act when he told the Review that if only someone had seconded the motion “I absolutely would have voted yes.” It would be the first time in memory that he hasn’t gotten what he wanted from this council. Right!
So, what’s really going on? We’re not sure. Is there a concern that Scratch Kitchen is more of a bar than a restaurant — even with the owner’s assurance that the joint’s catsup will be made from scratch? Who will walk into a completely remodeled establishment when O’Brien limps away to financial ruin? Are criminal associations of the location playing a role?
These would be good topics for council discussion.
But what happened Monday night is a terrible way of doing business in Forest Park. No business person should make the investment that Patrick O’Brien and his partner John Downs have made only to be upended at the 11th hour.
Someone, probably someone named Calderone, has to fix this.