CITY HALL — A proposal to ban bring-your-own-bottle businesses in dry precincts was tabled in the City Council Wednesday, only to have the bill's sponsor say she'll pursue a comprehensive BYOB ordinance citywide.
"BYOB is not regulated in the City of Chicago," said Ald. Deborah Graham (29th). She said the practice of allowing customers to bring their own booze into an establishment had spread from restaurants to barber shops, salons and art galleries where, with the lack of ingesting food along with alcohol, "some intoxication is likely to happen."
Graham pulled back her original proposal to ban BYOB in dry precincts and had it resent to the Public Safety Committee. She said "pushback" from critics had argued that it would have a bad effect on businesses making use of the practice, and she was out to make sure "Chicago businesses continue to thrive."
Yet she added that she now wants to pursue a comprehensive BYOB ordinance "looking at how we regulate it citywide."
When Graham's original proposal was before the Public Safety Committee, city officials said there are no ordinances regulating BYOB. Any restaurant or, in fact, any business can allow BYOB. What's illegal, they said, is any business giving out liquor to attract customers.
"I'd like a clearer understanding from the corporation counsel's office," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (1st). "I think BYOB works well. I've never heard any complaints about it."
"It works pretty well by us," added Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd). "We haven't really had any issues with it." Waguespack pointed out his ward comprises many noteworthy and successful BYOB restaurants in Logan Square, West Town and Lakeview.
Waguespack said he is concerned about a new ordinance creating problems where there aren't any, something he has raised with Graham. "We talked about it, and I told her I know you've got issues in your area, but nothing's ever come up by us."
"Not to say anybody's become unruly, but there needs to be some safeguards. It's a public-safety matter," Graham said. "There's nobody monitoring. Nobody asks for IDs, and young people can be gaining access to drinking." She added that she's "just making sure that somebody in an establishment is going to be looking and observing that."
Waguespack and Fioretti both said they would be monitoring the proposed ordinance, when Graham has it ready, to make sure it doesn't create new problems for successful businesses.