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Booze at Buckingham Fountain? Buck's Four Star Tavern Applies for License

By Lizzie Schiffman Tufano | May 2, 2014 6:40am | Updated on May 2, 2014 6:46am
 The team behind Buck's Four Star Grill hope they can start serving beer, wine and cocktails as soon as Buckingham Fountain is switched on.
The team behind Buck's Four Star Grill hope they can start serving beer, wine and cocktails as soon as Buckingham Fountain is switched on.
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DNAinfo/Lizzie Schiffman

GRANT PARK — When Buckingham Fountain starts flowing, restaurant owners Brian Fogle and Bill Prahofer hope the booze will, too.

As they await the start of their second season running Buck's Four Star Grill at the southeast corner of Buckingham Fountain plaza, the restaurateurs are also awaiting word from City Hall on their application to serve wine, beer and cocktails on their temporary patio facing the fountain.

"We have soft-serve ice cream and burgers and whatnot, and we're looking to have beer, wine, mai tais, stuff like that, so you can watch the fireworks and watch the fountain and have a drink," Fogle said.

Lizzie Schiffman chats with DNAinfo Radio about an establishment that wants to serve beer near Buckingham Fountain:

"Right now, it being like a tourist destination, we're hoping to also attract some of the 'liquid lunch' or some after work-type business," Fogle said. "With the wine license, we're hoping to do some tastings with different places in the city that are focusing on local products."

If approved, it would be the first time revelers can order a beer or a mai tai out in the plaza when it's not hosting big-ticket events like Lollapalooza or the Taste of Chicago.

"We'll have an enclosed patio — it's not enclosed from elements, but enclosed with flower boxes — and we'll have some tables and chairs," Fogle said. The seasonal restaurant "has a great view of the Navy Pier fireworks and a great view of the fountain."

If approved, Fogle said his restaurant will be the only option in the plaza for visitors looking to wet their whistle. Liquor is not sold by the other on-site eatery, Fountain Cafe, which is operated by the Washburne Culinary Institute.

Fogle and Prahofer took over the longstanding concession last year.

"When the lakefront liquor ordinance passed, it listed specific places that can apply for it," Fogle said. "We were fortunate enough to be one of them."

Fogle said the only restrictions he discussed with city officials when filing for a consumption on premises license was that "obviously you have to be within the serving hours, and then [customers] can't leave that patio area, so you can't walk with the beverage," Fogle said.

During events that envelope the plaza and Buck's Four Star Grill, Fogle says the play to keep the 50 to 60-seat patio open to compete with festival vendors.