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Embattled Bar Owner Plans to Argue Faulty Inspection Led to License Denial

By Serena Dai | May 30, 2013 6:11am
 Controversial businessmen want to open a bar in a storefront at the corner of North Broadway and Irving Park, but residents are opposed.
Controversial businessmen want to open a bar in a storefront at the corner of North Broadway and Irving Park, but residents are opposed.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

DALEY CENTER — Controversial local businessmen seeking to appeal a liquor license denial were bombarded this week with testimonials from residents who maintained that the Menetti family should not open a bar at Broadway and Irving Park Road.

But Burim Mehmeti, the applicant for the bar that's reportedly a Sam and Don Menetti project, is moving forward in hopes of appealing the decision and will be presenting witnesses at the next hearing. Among his arguments will be that the inspector that surveyed the property improperly measured the distance between the bar and a local hospital, said attorney Francis Ostian.

Broadway Tavern Inc. was denied a liquor license last year to open a bar at 4001 N. Broadway, a corner storefront on the border of Uptown and Lakeview that was formerly home to Arnold's Restaurant, after residents decried the family's poor management history and the bar's proximity to residences and Thorek Memorial Hospital.

The Menetti family previously managed the Green Dolphin Street, a shuttered Lincoln Park club marred by violence, and Lawrence House, a troubled single resident occupancy hotel that Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has said receives more 911 calls than any other address on the North Side due to drug deals and violence.

"That landlord is a terrible, terrible neighbor," said Juana Guzman, a local condo board president who testified at the hearing Tuesday.

Beyond the troubled past, no bar representatives attended a meeting that Cappleman held in December to discuss the license, residents said — a detail that pushed the alderman to deny the license, too. A lack of information from the businessmen influenced his decision, Cappleman said.

"They were very, very late in the process," Cappleman said.

At the hearing at the Daley Center Tuesday, Cappleman and just under a dozen residents showed up to reiterate their opposition to the chairman of the license appeal commission, Dennis Michael Fleming.

Residents testified that they feared an influx of violence due to poor management, an alley that would turn into a "toilet" for drunks, increased traffic and diminished property values. Mehmeti declined to comment through his attorney.

Ostian will present two to three witnesses at the next hearing, including Mehmeti and someone who has inspected the property, he said. The court will notify Cappleman about the date, to be determined next week.