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End is Near for Isam's Liquor Store as Alderman Paves Way for Replacement

 A more upscale liquor store could replace Isam's Liquor Store despite the owner's willingness to change his ways.
Isam's Liquor Store
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ROGERS PARK — Ald. Joe Moore introduced an ordinance to the City Council Wednesday that would lift the liquor moratorium along a section of Sheridan Road, paving the way for an upscale liquor store to open in the current home of Isam's Liquor Store.

Sam Sadaqa, who has owned the store for 30 years, complained he was being pushed out of the neighborhood after the landlord, Marc Realty, decided not to renew his lease when negotiations broke down over rent and renovations to the storefront.

But now — about a week after police removed two loyal Isam's Liquor Store customers from a well-attended meeting the alderman called to discuss lifting the moratorium — Sadaqa's store  would be replaced as long as the city lifts the moratorium and grants the new tenant, Pradeep Patel, a new liquor license at 6816 N. Sheridan Road.

In a statement posted to his website, Moore made his case for lifting the moratorium, explaining that Isam's Liquor Store would close regardless of his decision.

"The landlords were within their legal right to decline to renew Isam's lease and it is not within my power as alderman to compel any landlord to renew the lease of a commercial tenant," he said.

Isam's has been able to sell liquor at the location despite the moratorium because it was in business before the ban went into place.

At last week's meeting, representatives of the building owner said they would not renew Isam's lease, regardless of whether Patel gets his license and despite Sadaqa's pleas to restart negotiations.

"Whatever the community wants — I have to go by the community. If they want to eliminate some items, I can do that," Sadaqa said in May.

Patel, who also owns Red Violin Fine Wine and Spirits on Clark Street and 10 other liquor stores in the Chicago area, agreed to sign a document similar to one he signed for his Clark Street store that would legally restrict him from selling half-pints of liquor or malt liquor like Steel Reserve 211. The agreement also restricts him from covering the storefront windows with advertisements.

If he violates the agreement, he could lose his liquor license — if he's able to obtain one.

He plans to name the new store Green Guitar Wines and Spirits.

Moore said the majority of comments he received supported the decision to lift the moratorium.

He also said many people who contacted him "applauded the fact Isam's was going out of business."

Moore also acknowledged that lifting the moratorium would allow others to apply for a liquor license in the area.

The alderman said if someone were to apply for a license, the community would have a right to petition the Liquor Control Commissioner to not grant it.

"I want to thank everyone who took the time to express their views on the proposal to lift the moratorium," Moore wrote. "I understand this is an emotional issue for many."