Forest Park’s village government revoked Lantern Haus bar’s liquor license for 14 days effective Aug. 19 – even as the attorney for the bar asserted the village had no legal grounds to do so due to a pending appeal.
Mayor Rory Hoskins, who also acts as Forest Park’s liquor commissioner, previously pulled Lantern Haus’ license in the wake of a July 25 fight outside the bar that resulted in 8 people being charged with aggravated battery. During the Aug. 16 public hearing, Hoskins suspended the license for 20 days, with credit for the six days of the earlier emergency closure – which lowered the term of the suspension to 14 days. He said village police removed the liquor license on Aug. 19 at 4 p.m.
But Sean O’Leary, attorney for Lantern Haus, argued the village had no authority to do that before it filed an appeal with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, which, under the Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1939, suspends the order until the commission can consider the appeal. The order doesn’t apply in situations when the liquor license was suspended within the previous 12 months. Lantern Haus previously had its liquor license suspended on July 24, 2020, but it was reinstated on the Aug. 7, 2020 after most charges were dropped and the bar paid a fine.
Hoskins declined to comment on Lantern Haus’ allegations, saying that they would proceed with the suspension unless they receive a court order requiring them to do otherwise. O’Leary said that they were considering legal action but declined to share any details.
After the July 25 fight, Hoskins issued the order of emergency closure, writing that Lantern Haus failed to adequately “supervise and control its patrons” while they were inside the premises and once they left, failed to “employ sufficient” security and employees for the event, failed to “prevent patrons from causing harm, disruption and concern for safety of the general public as well as neighboring business” and failed to “notify local law enforcement of the fight.”
Under the rules of the emergency closure, the hearing had to be held within six days. Hoskins held the hearing on Aug. 2, but he said that, because the police officers who responded to the incident weren’t available, the hearing was continued to Aug. 16. Lantern Haus was allowed to reopen in the meantime. On Aug. 16, Hoskins ruled the July 25 incident warranted the suspension.
Before the suspension, Lantern Haus announced on its website that it was closed for renovations until Sept. 1. When reached by email, owner Patrick Jacknow declined to comment, directing the Review to O’Leary.
The attorney said that he filed an appeal with the state liquor commission on Aug. 19 at “11:30 a.m.-ish,” or about 6.5 hours before the liquor license suspension took effect. O’Leary argued that Lantern Haus still had the right to operate, citing Section 7-9 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act.
The second paragraph of that section states that, if the appeal deals with “an order or action of the local liquor control commission having the effect of suspending or revoking a license” the licensee “shall resume the operation of the licensed business pending the decision of the State Commission.” However, the following paragraph states that the suspension will stay in place if “that is the second or subsequent such suspension or revocation placed on that licensee within the preceding 12-month period.”
O’Leary said that, since the Lantern House didn’t have the suspension in 12 months prior to the Aug. 19 decision, the bar should have been allowed to stay open.
“It’s as clear as day,” he said. “The appeal is filed. They know the appeal has been filed. And I don’t understand what the issue is.”
Hoskins declined to comment on Lantern Haus’ position, saying that “unless there is a court order,” the village will continue to enforce the closure. He said the bar would be free to resume operations once the suspension ends.
O’Leary said that, since the liquor license has been physically removed, Lantern Haus currently can’t operate as a bar, so it’s staying closed. He hinted at legal action.
“I think you’ll hear something in the near future,” O’Leary said. “The laws need to be followed. We’re the society of laws.”