Bar hours for A1 taverns have been extended until midnight, seven days a week, after the village council approved a new ordinance on July 2 during a special meeting. The ordinance replaces the April 26 reduction of hours, forcing bars that don’t serve food to close at 11 p.m. every night until Labor Day. The revision was approved unanimously by Mayor Rory Hoskins and the three commissioners attending. Commissioner Dan Novak, who resigned at the last regularly scheduled meeting, was not in attendance.
During the meeting, Commissioner Joe Byrnes said he wished to amend the ordinance, allowing bars to stay open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (Saturday and Sunday mornings).
Commissioners Jessica Voogd and Ryan Nero didn’t second the motion to amend, so it didn’t pass, but both expressed that they didn’t want to wait until Labor Day to extend hours further.
“I hear what you’re saying,” Nero said to Byrnes. But he described the 12 a.m. closing time as a “steppingstone.” For now, he said, “midnight is a good compromise.”
“I think this is the first step moving forward,” Nero said. “Let’s give the bars back another hour, see how it goes.” He added, though, that he wanted a set date at which the issue would be discussed again, not just leave the table with a vague idea that more discussion would follow.
“Maybe we get back together the first week of August, and if things are moving in the right direction, we can sit back down and make another decision,” said Nero.
Voogd agreed with Nero, asking Hoskins if the issue of extending hours further could be revisited in 30 days instead of waiting for Labor Day. Hoskins agreed.
Voogd also asked Police Chief Tom Aftanas, present at the meeting, to share his thoughts on extending closing time for bars.
“I can say for the last month there have been no issues like we experienced in early May,” Aftanas said. Call volume from people complaining about issues with bars has gone down dramatically, he said, from five to seven calls a day to one or none most days.
“We know that eventually the time is going to be extended,” said Aftanas. “I can’t look into the future and say that, yes, this is the exact time to do that. Or that a month from now that time is going to be even better; we won’t know until we open up and see how things go.” He added that with the state and Chicago opening up, things will most likely improve since Forest Park won’t be the only place people will go for a night out.
But Byrnes, who’d proposed allowing longer hours on the weekends, an amendment that wasn’t seconded, said he thought the midnight allowance was “just kicking the can down the road.”
“We’ll never know what’s going on until we try something new,” Byrnes said. He said he understands the midnight curfew on weeknights. “But on the weekends we still have other establishments opened until one o’clock,” Byrnes added. That’s because the A license holders, those who get at least half their grow revenue from sales of food, are currently allowed to stay open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, regardless of whether they serve food until closing time.