SAUGANASH — Now that diners can have a glass of wine or beer with their dinner during a night out in Sauganash, civic leaders and elected officials are hoping to attract more restaurants to the neighborhood near Peterson and Cicero avenues.
More than 80 percent of voters in the third precinct of the 39th Ward voted to end a Prohibition-era ban on booze in November's election.
“For 35 years, I’ve seen restaurants come and go,” said Al Klairmont, a director of the Sauganash Chamber of Commerce. “In my opinion, it was because of the inability to sell alcohol.”
The chamber touted the measure as a way to attract to Sauganash “world-class” restaurant investors who want to be able to offer their diners a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail in the precinct’s commercial district.
That part of the district runs along Cicero Avenue between Peterson and Hiawatha avenues and Peterson Avenue between Cicero and Keating avenues.
The chamber has been working to create a pedestrian-friendly shopping district in the area around the Whole Foods Market, Klairmont said.
“There is a scarcity of sit-down restaurants in this area,” Klairmont said. “We hope this will help fill some of the empty storefronts, and give a greater chance of success to any entrepreneur.”
Without the ability to sell liquor, restaurants have to rely on patrons to bring their own libations, or BYOB. That eliminates a lucrative source of revenue for restaurants, which typically operate on razor-thin margins.
Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) was neutral on the question before the vote, but now supports the end of the ban, said her press secretary Manuel Galvan.
In 2006, voters in the adjacent 15th precinct voted to end the ban on booze to allow Whole Foods to sell liquor. Laurino was also neutral when that question was put to voters, Galvan said.
“I believe it will help the chamber attract more restaurants,” Laurino now says.