The owners of Slainte Irish Pub have an extra reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving after the Forest Park Village Council approved their request to construct a beer garden behind their business at 7505 Madison St.
Approval on a 4-1 vote at the Nov. 9 meeting was a long time coming, following discussion of the request at Zoning Board of Appeals meetings in July and October and a previous village council meeting in August.
Commissioner Tom Mannix continued his opposition to the request by casting the lone dissenting vote Nov. 9. At the Aug. 24 village council meeting, when the request was first considered, he made the motion to send the request back to the Zoning Board for further discussion, which was approved 4-1 with Commissioner Joe Byrnes casting the lone dissenting vote.
In August and again this week, Mannix cited communications he received from those living near the pub who opposed the request, citing noise, litter and “quality of life” issues.
“I committed to the residents,” he said this week. “I supported those who emailed me.”
In August, Mannix said he was requesting the second Zoning Board hearing because he felt residents had not been afforded sufficient opportunity to voice their opinions. According to village records, no residents appeared at the July 20 Zoning Board hearing.
Of the three people who appeared at the Oct. 19 hearing to voice their opinions, one spoke against the proposal and two spoke in favor.
Chris Fleming, co-owner of the pub with his brother Pat, said he was “elated” by the council’s decision.
He said the beer garden would not be very large, allowing space for “maybe” four tables and 12 people. Adding the beer garden will result in the loss of three of six parking spaces behind the pub, which was another concern of those opposing the request.
Per Village Code, the beer garden will only be allowed to serve alcohol between 11 a.m. and midnight and live music is prohibited.
“I’m grateful we were finally given what everybody else was given,” Chris Fleming said, referring to previous decisions that allowed Doc Ryan’s and Fat Duck to open beer gardens at their Forest Park establishments.
He said he believes the beer garden will at least partially address the residents’ concerns about litter by providing an opportunity for smokers, who previously have been sitting on cars in the parking area and throwing cigarette butts.
Since the beer garden is designed to be temporary, erected in the spring and taken down in the fall, patrons of the pub will have to wait until next year to enjoy drinking and dining outdoors.
Chris Fleming spoke positively about being a businessman on Madison Street in particular and in Forest Park in general.
“I want to be the best bar owner I can,” he said.