Neighbors are still complaining about the Forest Park Tap Room, a bar on Madison Street, and the behavior of some of its customers.
On Feb. 14, one person who lives directly across Madison Street from the Tap Room spoke during the public comment portion of the Forest Park Village Council meeting, imploring the village to take stronger action against the Tap Room and its customers.
“The Tap Room continues to have a profoundly negative effect on the lives of people living nearby in appalling ways,” Hannah Boudreau, the co-president of the Tuscan Lofts Condominium Association, told the village council. “This past Saturday evening [Feb. 12], upon closing, we witnessed property damage, physical violence and threats, public urination, offensive and violent language, excessive noise, public intoxication, illegal drinking, open bottles, car/radio noise, speeding, continued tailgating in our parking lots and on our streets, just outside of residents’ windows late into the night and finally a bloody fight resulting in more 911 calls and injuries. The strain this establishment continues to put on our residents and on our law enforcement resources is not sustainable.”
Forest Park police did generate a police report connected to what happened outside at Madison and Circle at about 12:40 a.m. on Feb. 13. A police officer reported that a group of eight to 10 people, both men and women, leaving the Tap Room at crossing Madison Street “causing a disturbance, loud, and yelling obscenities.”
A short time later, the officer reported, several of the men engaged in a physical altercation, throwing punches. A security guard from the Tap Room reportedly ran across Madison Street, yelling for the group to “stop.” The altercation broke up about 30 seconds later, police said.
In a telephone interview with the Forest Park Review this week Boudreau spoke more about her concerns. She said that most of the problems occur right around closing time at 1 a.m.
“To put it simply it’s pandemonium,” Boudreau said. “The language, the violence, the screaming, the fighting, just vandalism to people’s properties. A person’s lawn was even defecated on by a drunk patron.”
Forest Park Review spoke with others who expressed concerns about Tap Room patrons’ late-night actions, but they declined to air those complaints on the record.
Boudreau says that although the police have been monitoring the Tap Room, she wants them to crack down and arrest those who break the law after leaving the bar.
“Cite these people and arrest them for drinking and driving, noise violation, drunk and disorderly, public intoxication, public urination,” Boudreau said. “Get out of the car and actually make arrests.”
The Tap Room has been a source of controversy since not long after it opened in late 2020. Located at 7321 Madison in the space formerly occupied by Healy’s Westside, Forest Park Tap Room is owned by brothers Lance and Hansel Law.
The Laws are Black as is most of clientele of the Tap Room. Boudreau, who is white, and others who complain about the Tap Room and its customers say it’s the behavior, not the race, of the customers that bothers them.
“I’m not against the bar. I’m against the actions and behaviors that spill out of it,” Boudreau said.
The Tap Room regularly brings in DJs who typically play hip-hop music and often attract their own clientele. Boudreau and others say that Tap Room is seeking to get an entertainment license and operates more like a nightclub than a bar. The Tap Room advertises bottle service.
“It draws a big nightclub kind of crowd to quiet Madison Street,” Boudreau said. “Do we really want a nightclub at Madison and Circle?”
Last August, Mayor Rory Hoskins, who also acts as the village’s liquor commissioner, revoked the Tap Room’s liquor license, ruling that the bar stayed open after hours.
But the Tap Room owners appealed the license revocation and in January the Illinois State Liquor Commission reversed the village’s decision, stating that while there were a few people in the Tap Room a couple minutes after closing time on July 3, 2021 there was no evidence that they had been sold alcohol after closing time.
After the state liquor commission reversed the village’s license revocation the Tap Room got its village liquor license back and reopened about a month ago. Since then, old problems have resurfaced according to Boudreau.
Boudreau told the Review that she is awakened from her sleep three to five times a week by the noise from patrons leaving the Tap Room and their rowdy behavior.
“And I’m a social worker at a middle school,” Boudreau said. “My kids need me to be on point. I can’t afford to keep losing sleep like this. This is insane; this is no way to live. I have the right to quiet enjoyment of my residence as well.”