Rory Hoskins, Forest Park’s mayor who acts as the village’s liquor commissioner, cancelled a June 23 hearing on the potential renewal of Forest Park Tap Room’s liquor license citing the unavailability of a key witness.
The hearing was delayed twice over the course of May, and the June 8 hearing was scrapped after a court reporter raised the issue of the Review reporter recording the meeting. The latest cancellation came so late that the staff already set up chairs in the council chamber in preparation for the hearing. Hoskins told the Review that the hearing has been rescheduled for July 8 at 10:15 a.m.
One of the issues that remains unclear as the case continues is whether Tap Room’s liquor license has actually expired as the process dragged on.
According to Section 3-3-7 of the village municipal code, the liquor license must be issued for no longer than six months and must be terminated on either April 30 or Oct. 31. But Section 3-3-9 states that the license is “good for not to exceed one year after issuance,” and it can’t be revoked any earlier than that unless the liquor commissioner finds them in violation of the village liquor code. Tap Room’s liquor license was issued in Oct. 2021.
Hoskins told the Review that Tap Room’s license has expired, referring the reporter to Police Chief Ken Gross’ complaint. The complaint doesn’t specifically mention anything about the term of the license or the license’s expiration other than the date it was originally issued.
The June 27 village council meeting packet lists Tap Room’s licenses as one of the 14 active Class A1 licenses.
When asked why the village is still holding a hearing on the license renewal if the license already expired, Hoskins referred the Review to the village clerk.
“I am not going to discuss matters involving hearings, including liquor hearings,” he wrote in an e-mailed response.
Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz told the Review that the Tap Room’s license status is essentially in limbo pending the outcome of the hearing. She said the bar owners didn’t pay the liquor license fee in May because it made no sense to pay a fee for something that might not get renewed anyway — which would normally cause the license to lapse. If the license does get renewed, they would be required to pay the late fees the village charged.
Since it opened on Oct. 23, 2020, inside the former Healy’s Westside space at 7321 Madison St., the bar has faced multiple complaints about loud music, fights and violating COVID-19 mitigation limits in place at the time. Those alleged actions resulted in multiple liquor license suspensions and citations. In August 2021, Hoskins revoked the Tap Room’s liquor license after ruling the bar had stayed open after hours. But in January, the Illinois State Liquor Control Commission reversed the village’s license revocation, ruling there was no evidence that the bar was selling alcohol after the cut-off time.
In a complaint filed on April 27, Forest Park police chief Kenneth Gross filed a complaint asking Hoskins not to renew their liquor license, citing the Tap Room’s record and the owners allegedly lying to the village about their past criminal records and the police records related to another business the owners operate called the Berwyn Tap Room.
The notice of the most recent hearing on the village website said that it was rescheduled “due to scheduling conflicts between both parties.”
While, during the June 9 meeting, the first row was close behind the tables where the defendants and the village legal team sat, the seats were moved about one row back for the planned June 23 meeting, creating more of a gap.