ROGERS PARK — Last time, Pradeep Patel's public plea to open an upscale liquor store in place of Isam's Liquor Store on Sheridan Road drew a response from the Chicago Police Department in what Ald. Joe Moore (49th) called one of the most raucous public meetings he's ever held.
But on Monday, after Isam's closed for good last month, just a few people showed up to a public meeting convened by the alderman to collect input on a couple of unexpected concessions Patel will need to open shop.
Patel will need a special use permit from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals and a zoning change from the City Council.
The council had voted unanimously in September to lift the liquor moratorium surrounding the space at 6816 N. Sheridan Road after a contentious battle between Isam's and the building management, which refused to renew owner Sam Sadaqa's lease.
"If the zoning decision declines my application, I'm not going to bring my investments — I'm not going to do a store," Patel said Monday.
He said his new store, if opened, would be even "more upscale" than the first store he opened in the neighborhood on Clark Street, called Red Violin.
He had proposed to name his new store Green Guitar, but Flatts and Sharpe Music Co., located just a block away, asked Patel consider a different name to dispel any confusion between the businesses, Patel said.
Instead, he plans to name the store "Hops and Grapes" and hopes the store would be a "Starbucks of liquor stores."
Under the city's zoning ordinance, a store selling predominantly liquor would need at least a B3 zoning designation and a special use permit. The block is currently zoned at only B1-2.
The snafu isn't the first time Patel has run into trouble with Chicago's zoning.
In July, Patel's liquor store on Clark Street was found to be in violation of its liquor license for selling booze as its principal product. Under the terms of its license, it was only allowed to serve liquor as an accessory to groceries.
Patel, who owns 11 liquor stores in the Chicago area, said the Red Violin was the first of his stores where he needed to apply for an entirely new liquor license.
Moore said he would continue to support Patel's bid to open his new store.