ROGERS PARK — The owner of Red Violin, a neighborhood liquor store charged with violating the terms of its license, might close his doors after learning his store shouldn't really be a liquor store at all.
The terms of his license, dictated by the building's zoning, require that liquor should only be sold as an "accessory" to groceries, not as a principal product, officials said.
Now the store's owner, Pradeep Patel — who also plans to open another liquor store on Sheridan Road called Green Guitar in place of Isam's Liquor Store — is applying for a special-use permit so he can continue selling primarily alcohol.
Red Violin, at 7407 N. Clark St., opened to the chagrin of neighbors in October.
"The store that he has there now, as it stands, 100 percent fits his business plan, and doesn’t fit zoning," said Lorraine Dostal, leader of Jargowood, the block club in the area.
Dostal and other block club members have never supported Patel's plan to run a liquor store close to parks and a daycare center on busy Clark Street.
But now that Ald. Joe Moore (49th) asked their opinion about whether to support a special use permit to get around the zoning problem, they're saying Patel should ditch the booze.
Moore, however, said Patel never misrepresented the concept of the store when he met with him and the community last year. Therefore, he plans to support Patel's application for the permit to bypass the building's zoning requirements that dictate the terms of the liquor license.
"My staff assistant Mike Land and I were unaware of the zoning issue until it was brought to our attention a few weeks ago," Moore said in an email.
If the city doesn't approve the application, Patel would need to swap much of his merchandise of beer, wine and spirits for goods like bananas, chips and milk.
"I would have to make it a grocery store," Patel said when reached by phone Thursday. "My intent is to operate Red Violin as it is right now."
Patel's liquor application included a site plan that indicated he'd be selling predominantly groceries, said Jennifer Lipford, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Patel, who owns several other liquor stores, including Gold Crown Liquors in Wrigleyville, said if he had to sell mainly groceries, he would probably throw in the towel and sell the store.
"Sometimes you goof up and you take a hit," he said, adding that he wasn't aware of the zoning requirements until he tried to apply for a license.
"It’s not the end of the world," he said. "My vision is far bigger than [the Red Violin and the] Green Guitar."