Forest Park Village Council declines to vote for new sandwich shop's license to sell alcohol

Scratch Kitchen's liquor application scratched

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By Jean Lotus


Patrick O'Brien was excited about his new sandwich shop, Scratch Kitchen at 7445 Madison St. in Forest Park. He invested $100,000, adding all-new kitchen fixtures, installed six flat-screen TVs and a bar to improve what had been a late-night taco stand into a high-concept gourmet "sandwich and craft canned beer bodega," which was to open next week.

That was until the village council refused to grant his liquor license in a technical maneuver that meant the license application never even came to a vote.

The proposed ordinance on the village agenda Monday night would have amended the number of liquor licenses in the new "Class A" category (instituted in April) to include Scratch Kitchen.

Commissioner Chris Harris proposed the change, but commissioners Hoskins, Hosty and Mannix declined to second it.

After the meeting O'Brien was shocked.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it," he said. "I have a clause in my lease that says if I can't get license approval I can walk away."

"I can take my concept elsewhere," he added.

O'Brien said he took out a $100,000 Small Business Association loan and put up $25,000 of his own money to open the restaurant. The job was a gut remodel, since everything had been picked clean from the previous restaurant, even the large stove hood.

The former eatery, Deko's, closed abruptly last December after the DEA arrested the owner, Forest Parker Mario Carrera, 47, and charged him with selling cocaine out of the restaurant.

O'Brien and his partner, John Downs, of Brookfield, who owns Bartini Bar and Grill in North Riverside, were in close contact with Mayor Calderone, who is also the Forest Park liquor commissioner, O'Brien said.

"I wouldn't have proceeded if I didn't have the utmost confidence in this town and in my location. I grew up [in River Forest]."

O'Brien has a 3-year-old child and wife, "who were counting on this business," he said. "I'm so beyond confused right now."

He said he was completely surprised by the turn of events.

"It has nothing to do with me. Obviously this will be a sleepless night. Our restaurant is ready to be inhabited. The first meeting with staff is [Tuesday] night at six."

O'Brien said by the time the next village council meeting is held on Jan. 14, his restaurant would be out of business without a liquor license.

"Our bank loan is due, our rent is due. We're almost out of money, so we were hoping to open."

The village currently has 14 "Class A" liquor licenses. The classification was developed last April to cover liquor-serving establishments that are more food- than liquor-oriented. The restaurants must earn more than 50 percent of their income from food, according to the classification. Class A restaurants are allowed to have a stand-alone bar, as opposed to a service bar.

When the ordinance was introduced, Calderone said it was to prevent restaurants from "morphing into full-scale bars."

"I'm not a bar, I don't want to be a bar," O'Brien insisted. "No one on Madison Street had the concept I was going to provide," said O'Brien, whose menu plans included creating even pickles and catsup from scratch.

Commissioner Hosty did return requests for comment by press time.

Mannix said he had "not heard anything good, bad or indifferent about the owner," of Scratch Kitchen. He said he waited for commissioner Hoskins to second the motion because, "the commissioner of public health and safety needs to be the one who is going out there and making sure the job is done."

When Hoskins didn't second the motion, Mannix said he thought it was "a red flag right there." Hoskins retorted that Mannix was "disingenuous" and had never previously looked to him for a vote recommendation.

"I fought pretty hard for [the Slainte beer garden, shot down by a 3 -2 vote]. I had already decided I was going to stay out of this one," Hoskins said. "Our council should be driven more by rules and conventions as opposed to personalities," he added.

The following restaurants were reclassified as Class A in April: Coral Sushi (now Yi Lin), Molly Malone's, Shanahan's, Skrine Chops, Fiorenza, Goldyburgers, Kevil's, Jimmy's Place, Francesca Fiore, Golden Steer, The Wine Bar (now Tapas 7232), M. Hermann's (now the Old School Bar and Grill), caffe DeLuca and Fat Duck.

Since the classification, two restaurants have changed hands: Old School and Yi Lin. However, both locations previously had liquor licenses. That was not the case for Deko's, the taco stand formerly located at that site.

In a memo to the council last April, Mayor Calderone wrote that he personally had "amended the number of liquor licenses" in the Class A category to 14 to include two new restaurants.

When asked about the memo, he said, "perhaps the better word would have been 'recommended.'"

Calderone said in that case the number of Class A licenses was not required to be voted on by the council because it was a new category that could be changed by the liquor commissioner.

But he said once a classification is determined, the council must vote to change the number of licenses within it.

"Any addition to the number of licenses in a class is required to be voted on by the village council."

When asked why the council would decline a liquor license to a new business that had invested on Madison Street, he said, "You can't blame me for that. I put it on the agenda. I'm a little dumbfounded myself," said Calderone. "If it had been seconded and discussed I absolutely would have voted yes."

Two other restaurants with full bars opened in Forest Park without requiring a vote to amend the number of a category of licenses. Amelia's, which opened in February, primarily serves food, and has a physical bar (as opposed to a service bar) but was classified as a Class A1 license. Piggyback Tavern, which opened last month, also has a physical bar and is a Class A, confirmed Calderon. That seems to bring the number of restaurants qualifying for the Class A to 15, while only 14 licenses are approved.

"I want Tony to call and tell me what happened," O'Brien said. "I'm so freaked out that this won't go down easy. I'm sickened by it and somebody better explain it to me."

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Reader Comments

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Posted: January 4th, 2013 10:34 AM

"If it is legal then it is fair." This mindset is exactly what's wrong with the Calderone regime. Giving your BFF a $20K raise is legal, therefore fair. Serving as the Liquor Commissioner while taking campaign donations from the bar owners is legal, therefore fair. So tell me Edward P.- Not taking action on Scratch's liquor license was legal. Did that make it fair?

fairly legal from Forest Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 10:29 AM

@Edward P. "If it is legal, it is fair." Are you kidding me? Slavery was fair until it was illegal? Nepotism and favoritism is fair? Giving out political favors in return for campaign contributions is fair? Lying is fair? Legality and fairness are two different animals. What is legal and illegal is determined by politicians who are bought and sold. They do not exactly have the firmest grasp of fairness. We live in a very politically corrupt county and state, which is why we are so screwed up.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 9:59 AM

Geo nothing you have said is illegal, Obama and Romney both did questionable ads on each other. I think I remember a quote from the Calderone Campaign when he was first elected that he plays to win as most people do. Whats wrong with a Pac. Perhaps those against Calderone could do better if they were more organized. I'm an independant but its politics not candyland.

Edward P. from Forest Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 9:38 AM

@GEO, if PAC' s are good enough for Barack Obama then they are as good for our boys.

Edward P. from Forest Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 9:36 AM

@GEO, the best you have been able to do is cast minutiae about stuff that is legal and then you end with fair? Can you at least put together something coherent. If it is legal then it is fair. And read what you write. One one hand you write about contributions from those connected and then you finish with writing about those not connected. Connected to what? You and your writings are absurd. If the town is anywhere are bas as what you portray you should move under a rock.

Geo Brazen  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 9:08 AM

I forgot: PACs. As if there was not enough money already coming in, the boys have a PAC. Legal? Unfortunately yes.

Geo Brazen  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 9:05 AM

@Matt on Madison. How about campaign finance. Illinois has some of the weakest laws in the country. Calderone takes thousands of $$ from those who do business with our village and far flung contributors who are not connected to our town. Legal? Yes. Fair?

Edward P. from Forest Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2013 8:57 AM

After looking at these fliers it appears that this is not a white or black (gasp) thing but truth about a failed Hoskins. He doesn't want to serve the village get with it folks. This guy is a looser.


Posted: January 3rd, 2013 4:33 PM

@ Matt re political fliers -- here's the link to the maywood flyer coverage in FPR Similar (although no proof that creators were the same) flyers showed up when Hoskins ran against Welch, photo shopped to look like a mug shot of Hoskins.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: January 3rd, 2013 12:58 PM

Seriously yes, list them all please.

Bill from Forest Park  

Posted: January 3rd, 2013 11:35 AM

Not play fair, Matt? Well, for one, that racist flyer sent out comparing Rory Hoskin's ideas as being tantamount to turning Forest Park governance over to Maywood and the-gasp!- black people who run things there. Remember, the one they took the time to punch out the identifying print shop stamp on all but one copy. The same print shop one of the candidates had a connection to. Want more examples, Matt?

Matt on Madison  

Posted: January 2nd, 2013 12:54 PM

Geo and Jean, please elaborate how did they not play fair in the election? If your going to say those things then back them up.

Geo Brazen  

Posted: January 2nd, 2013 12:32 PM

Good point Jean, if Calderone, Hosty and Mannix did play fair, they would not be in office.


Posted: January 2nd, 2013 12:23 PM

Hosty is a nice person, lawyer? Pardon me while I pick my jaw up from the floor. I am so SICK of the Calderone gang messing it up for everyone else...and Hosty doesn't like anonymous comments? Well, if politics was fair, then we would have a different mayor.

sue adams from forest park  

Posted: January 1st, 2013 4:54 PM

time for Hosty to go. he is not popular in Fp. vote him out.

Bill from Forest Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 7:48 PM

Oh, for God's sake, Get Rational,PLEASE, get rational about your posts, wait a couple minutes, and make all your disparate thoughts the focus of ONE single post. OK? Huh?


Posted: December 21st, 2012 7:09 PM

Get Rational, does canned beer make it a full scale bar? I believe what bothers most folks is the lack of a second, this died because no one made a second to the motion. I am not sure I have seen this before.

Get Rational from Forest Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 4:11 PM

even seen the inside of this place? How about posting some pictures and a diagram online? Why don't we rationally see if this business passes the smell test?

Get Rational from Forest Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 4:08 PM

pertaining to this particular licensee. Most people say the village is evil because it won't approve and now one commissioner will approve because the owners are nice guys. My opinion is that the village should immediately create a license category that will allow a new licensee to close at midnight if it has a standalone bar or it can close at regular time if it does not. This will prevent us from being Zambonied! Why don't we get away from all the hysteria, have the commissioners and public

Get Rational from Forest Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 4:07 PM

accurate results. Second, what it appears Scratch is trying to do is operate a sandwich shop along with a full scale bar. Ask yourself on St Patrick's Day, a cute little bodega on Madison St. Irish bar? Third, regardless of Scratch's business plan, what happens if either they wildly succeed as a bar or fail as a restaurant? How would the village correct this? Fourth, the classification rewards you as a late night bar as long you have a good dinner hour? Finally look at the discussion

Get Rational from Forest Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 4:05 PM

The distinction between A licenses and A1 licenses is unenforceable and the "funky little sandwich shop" with more flat screen TV's per square foot than any Village bar proves the point. First, class A licenses need to exceed 50% sales from food. How could someone prove that a "class A" is in violation? If a sandwich and a drink both cost $7 how would one determine which is which in an audit? An audit conducted against a violating business could cost tens of thousands of dollars & not get

long time FP'er from forest park  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 2:44 PM

Didn't Mr. O'Brien know that if he didn't use Tony's alarm company, make a large campaign contribution, or drop some cash off at city hall he would be denied!

Forest Park Property Owner from Forest Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 2:41 PM

Gina said "In this case it may have encouraged Mannix to second since he said your silence was his queue not to do it." Wow, and I thought Mannix was Tony's Monkey boy and now we really find out he takes his lead from Hosty. God save Forest Park!

Gina Thomas  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 12:09 PM

I meant Forest Park RESIDENT, not citizen. I am clearly a citizen of the US, not FP and want to clear that up before people start attacking me here. HA!

Gina Thomas from Forest Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 12:05 PM

Commissioner Hosty - I do appreciate reading your prospective. It seems like you put thought into the way you vote on items that could potentially be a conflict of interest and I apprecite that. But why not recuse yourself instead of not first or seconding something? That's the standard way to show the potential of a conflict. In this case it may have encouraged Mannix to second since he said your silence was his queue not to do it. As a FP citizen I would really respect and apprecaite this.

John from Forest Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 11:00 AM

Talk about dumb moves...or non moves. If the commissioners had any sense, they'd hold a special meeting to get this business their license before we lose it to a neighboring town. So far none of the excuses I've heard will lead me to vote for any of these jokers next time around.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 10:58 AM

We have heard from Mr. Hosty and right or wrong we have heard from Mr. Hoskins as to why he did not second the motion. So that just leaves Mr. Mannix????


Posted: December 20th, 2012 9:59 AM

@ MH -- Sorry, but the FPR policy allowing anonymous comments is completely in line with American traditions of political discourse. See this link for discussion citing Federalist Papers, and recent Supreme Court rulings. or google "free speech anonymity internet" Public service requires a thick skin -- everybody knows this.

Mark Hosty  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 9:39 AM

Jobs? I know that the next meeting is 3 weeks away, and for the delay, I apologize. I will say that if my fellow commissioners do not do their job I will make the second this and vote in favor. As my record will show I make over 98% of the motions or seconds. It is time that Commissioner Hoskins shows up prepared for a meeting. His fear of actually being on the record let to Monday nights debacle. Third, and finally I ask the review to stop allowing anonymous posts, Real names keep things civil

Mark Hosty  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 9:30 AM

I feel it is time to respond, There are many comments here that are either in accurate or just meant to blindly attack. First, I have known both the owners for over ten years and like them both personnally. I try not to make first or seconds when restaurant licenses are concerned. I believe my record will show that I always vote pro-business and never have put the interests of my employer ahead of the Village. Second, I think people should be asking why didn't my fellow commissioners do their

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 8:25 AM

Far be it for me to interrupt a Mark Hosty beat down but there were three other commish at the table. Mannix sat mute and later pulled a laughable new rule out of, um, the air. Hoskin's lament that he was beat up on the Slainte vote just won't cut it, as life goes on and we still have responsibilities. Calderone acted as tho a lack of a second motion was everyday news, which it most certainly is not. Not even a gentle prod to the other dunces on the dais..."Commissioners, I know Christmas is near but can I have your attention. There is a motion by an new and invested business owner on the table..." And I'm not letting Harris off the hook as his vote on Slainte was ignorant and indulgent. I think it's fair to conclude our council is utterly dysfunctional.


Posted: December 20th, 2012 7:03 AM

Here is the link to the FPR coverage about the Village Council vote, contrary to the recommendations of the Zoning Board, not to approve Slainte's patio. big city access, small town charm. And here is the coverage from before the non-vote. The proposed menu sounded delish. Really too bad, sounded like something different, would have been a regular at veggie night.

Break the mold in 2014 from Forest Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 2:30 AM

If you don't believe what these people are saying, just look at Mr. Hosty's voting history regarding Madison St. businesses. We need to seriously consider his authority and questions if he wants to be a bar GM or FP Commissioner. Once questionable practices are sniffed out by the voters, it's hard to get regain trust (Jessie Jacson Jr.). I voted for Hosty in the last election but won't be in the next. It's time to reconsider your vote too.

Lawyerbytrade21 from Forest Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 2:22 AM

Forest Park residents, please understand 2 things: 1.) Comissioner Hosty is a good Forest Park resident - engaging and charming. 2.) Commisioner Hosty is no longer an effective elected official. He owns a business on Madison and consistently votes on issues that protects his business (Healy's) - & he should recuse! FP voters need to differentiate good people and effective politicians. Mr. Hosty is a pleasant individual but a poor elected official. He can no longer be trusted w/our votes.

Geo Brazen  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 7:50 PM

Did anybody counsel O'Brien and Downs about their alarm service contract? @ DSH IIRC, the price fixing story Taxpayer is talking about took place at a FP Liquor Association meeting back in 2002-03.

Derek St. Holmes from Forest Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 5:12 PM

Taxpayer. If you believe Ji...I mean the bartender that told you Hosty went to others demanding that they raise their price, You are an idiot. Or did you just fabricate that story?

Disgusted from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 3:43 PM

Jerry, I think that makes it even worse. The village allowed her to start her business by changing the rules and then changed them back?

Maisie Hanrahan from Forest Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 2:53 PM

I am sure the commissioners and mayor are going to figure out a way to right this wrong. Right? It would be truly shameful if they didn't.

jerry from Forest Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 2:07 PM

Disgusted, you need to check your facts, the owner was less than honest about her retail/boarding business. The village allowed her to start her business by changing the rules. The condo assoc. had rules agaist her business, you could here the dogs both inside and outside the the building. There was never any one in the supposed retail portion of the businee and the doors were always locked. Retail my backside.

disgusted with FP from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 1:32 PM

Remember the dog boarding business that was on Circle Avenue for about 6 months? She also put a lot of money into her business and had gotten her license. She was then informed by the Village that it was illegal to have that kind of business at that location and had to close. These "officials" are really stupid and mean. We all need to work at getting out the vote next election time so we can give these guys the boot.

Surprise! from Forest Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 12:38 PM

Come on! Is anyone really surprised by this. I'm sure Mr.Hosty made sure his brother's licenses went through with out a hitch and he doesn't want anymore competition. I'm sure the owner was told there would be no problems and it will sale through the vote. Well, a hard lesson learned by him. These elected officials are poisoning the business waters of Forest Park. Potential business owners are going to be driven away because of shady officials. Yet, people keep voting them back into office.

Resident from Forest park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 9:52 AM

Wow! Of course Hosty doesn't want anymore competition against himself and his brother.


Posted: December 19th, 2012 8:14 AM

What owner in any town would put 100k into a place for a bar without a liquor license. Thats just stupid business..

CP from Forest Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 8:05 AM

I guess if you sell blow at that location, you'll be able to open. If this place still opens, I'd still like to try their sandwiches, maybe if enough people eat there, they can survive

Forest park taxpayer from Forest park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 8:04 AM

Can someone explain how there are currently 15 places using class A with only 14 approved? Why not 16 then? And Tom Mannix is a failure as a commissioner; what I'd expected from someone who has done nothing towards what he campaigned as an advocate of! How are all those teen programs coming along? How about that new high school? What a joke; too bad at the expense of someone who actually works for a living. I'm sure if Hosty brought it up, Tom would second; read council minutes!

Donna from Forest Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 7:31 AM

Support Scratch

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:31 PM

fyi, #5 on the agenda starts at about the 21' mark and goes to 21' 35", yes 35 seconds, before it is denied for lack of a second motion. Good times, when it's not your own life you're tossing away.

Graham Johnston from  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 8:51 PM

We've posted the video clip from the council meeting so everyone can see how quickly this unfolded.

Ann M from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 8:02 PM

It seems strange having the competition vote on if another liquor license should be issued.


Posted: December 18th, 2012 7:50 PM

Wow, this guy sure was sucker punched! FP politics stink and I am positive Hosty was behind this disgusting turn of events,

Gina Thomas from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 6:36 PM

I am so shocked by this...and disappointed! I was really looking forward to this place and think it would have brought a new crowd to Madison street. As I was reading this article I was assuming there could be more to the story than a simple power struggle until I read that Mayor Calderone said he would have seconded the motion if allowed. I'll go find the video and see for myself but if this is a pissing contest at the expense of a business owner...GOOD LORD! We Want Scratch!

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 5:48 PM

This following the bizarre Slainte' vote? I can't imagine a new business opening in this town now, as council rulings (or lack of) are un-moored to precedent and are completely unpredictable. Y'all are going to resign now, right? Because you (demonstrably) don't have a clue as to what your job is. Unbelievable.

Sandra from Forest park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 4:46 PM

This stinks. I was so looking forward to this place opening. We need a place like this in town.

Stephanie Kuehnert from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 4:44 PM

For shame, Village Council! Like Tom said, I love my town, but I am so sickened by the way the members of our Village government have been using our businesses, our property, etc as pawns in their little power play. The way they have been behaving is seriously detrimental to Forest Parkers and our small businesses. Apparently they've forgotten that they were elected to act on behalf of the people of Forest Park not use council meetings as a place to pursue their own self-interests & petty feuds.

Bill from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 4:35 PM

14 approved licenses, 15 approved licenses. What's the distinction? This isn't about what's legally approved and codified. This is about what three power-grubbing hacks want. Period. Btw, Mr. Mannix- ANYONE on the board can second a motion for discussion. You still have to vote it up or down. It's that discussion part you clearly were averse to.

forest park taxpayer from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 4:15 PM

Mr. Hosty is only the owner of his bar when it's convenient for him; not when he's applying for a gaming license or voting on Village Council issues. Don't you people realize he is above the laws meant for mere mortals.

Ann from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 4:00 PM

By the way. I thought as a board member you were not suppose to have a liquor license. You can't just put your business in a "corporation" and say you don't own it when your corporation does. YOU OWN IT Mr Hosty. Why should you be allowed to decide who else gets a license. Wake up Forest Parkters

Robin from Forest park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:53 PM

I'm a little confused as to why they didn't get the license way before all that work was done?

Jack from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:45 PM

I can't help but wonder if the mayor and the rest of the council were waiting for Hoskins to 2nd the motion and get him on the hook for motioning for it since there is only 14 licenses but already 15 approved?????

Tom from Forest park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:32 PM

I love my town, but not the local government. The corruption in Forest Park is embarressing. I am ashamed to be represented by Mr. Hoskins and Mr. Mannix. Shame on them.

Louis Adamek from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:31 PM

I knew Patrick back when we owned Blue Max. He was a trained chef and always had hopes of opening a restaurant. Sure hope they hash things out. There's always room for a good sandwich shop on Madison.

Patrick from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:21 PM

It is sad that no one on the council seconded the motion. Of course Hosty isn't going too, that is more competition for his bar. Mannix only does as Hosty or Calderon do as he doesn't think for himself so of course he didn't second it. As far as Hoskins not seconding it, that is sad as well!! So much for the support of Madison St businesses especially after the owner had been in contact with Calderon all along the way!! Guess it just goes to show that it all depends on who you know!!

Nucky Thompson from Jersey City  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:13 PM

Dear Patty, Sorry to hear about the license decline. Something smells fishy. Too many booze pushers over there already? Shall we call FP the West Burb Boardwalk Empire?... Yours Truly, Nucky

Forest Park Taxpayer from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:11 PM

For those that don't think Hosty is a bully, I was told by a Madison Street bartender that last year Hosty went bar to bar to insist they all raise their beer prices (because he wanted all the bars to raise their pricces). This particular bar told him to get lost (except a more colorful term was used).

Forest Park Taxpayer from Forest Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:07 PM

I'm sure Mr. Hosty had something to do with this. As long as Mr. Mannix was in his corner, too. After all, I'm sure Hosty doesn't want o have more competition to his own bar and his brother's bar in town! Poor chump that trusted the Mayor/Liquor Commissioner on this one.

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