ONCE OVER LIGHTLY
Originally published in Forest Park Review July 17, 1985, page 3
VINCE McGOWAN went before the village council at their meeting of June 10 because he wants to add an outdoor café (we used to call it a beer garden) to his Set Back North restaurant. He didn’t get much for an answer at the time except that it probably wouldn’t be advisable for him to go ahead with his plans until the council gave it some more thought.
My impression was that they were going to research our existing ordinances as well as those of some neighboring towns where al fresco dining is allowed – towns like Oak Park where you put some tables and chairs out on the sidewalk and, presto, you have an outdoor café.
A month later on July 8, Patrick (Goldyburgers) O’Connor appeared before the council to ask for the same thing that McGowan wants (it seems that outdoor dining is definitely “in”).. Like Mc Gowan, O’Connor described an outdoor facility that would cost more than a few bucks to build.
The council had apparently done some homework as promised because they told O’Connor, “Go right ahead with your outdoor café.” Then they added a few little hookers: No liquor outside, sanitation standards must be strictly observed, and there must be no loss of existing on-premises parking.
There were one or two other restrictions, but I forget what they were.
It is enough to note that neither McGowen or O’Connor hurried back to start building an outdoor cafe.
Some people are comparing the council’s position on and outdoor cafes to their attitude about electronic games in the taverns and lounges, which is to say, “no way.” I don’t see it that way.
I think they are throwing up these roadblocks because they envision a return to the beer garden days, and you know that any beer garden worth of the name must include plenty of liquid, music, sing-alongs and certain amount to unrestrained gemutlichkeit.
Residents in the neighborhood would have a choice of complaining or joining in.
Obviously, this is what the council wants to avoid. It’s very possible they’d like to accommodate Set Back North and Godlyburger, but they don’t know how to do it without opening the door to other problems.
Using Oak Park as an example is not going to wash, either. They have no old established neighborhood taverns or singles bars that don’t serve food. If they did, would they let them go out on the sidewalks or rope off a section of their parking lots so they could serve their joy juice outdoors?
I think not.
One possible scenario is that in which Set Back North and/or Goldyburgers, both highly respected establishments, go ahead and add their outdoor cafes, complying with the ground rules, of course, just to demonstrate they can operate compatibly with the neighborhood.
Perhaps that would be the springboard to working out something that responds to what seems—right now, at least—to be a popular demand.
COMMISSIONER JERRY JACKNOW has made a singular contribution to Forest Park’s history. At the council meeting of July 8, he noted that our attractive municipal parking lot at Madison and Thomas is suffering the ignominy of being nameless.
“I move it be named Madison Court,” said Jacknow.
“I think it should be Thomas Court,” said Agnes Daehm on the for the most faithful followers of council proceedings since she was the village health officer a number of years ago. “Madison Court doesn’t say where it is.”
Mrs. Dahn’s suggestion was dually noted and followed by a unanimous vote for Madison Court, thus preserving Jacknow’s niche in the annals of Forest Park.
We trust there will be appropriate signage.
I HAVE OVERINDULGED myself already this week but I can’t help thinking about our new college graduates. They are faced with so many threats to their lifestyle – things like nuclear war, acid raid, terrorism and job offers.