LITTLE ITALY — Despite initial controversy, a liquor store that was forced to undergo a name change before securing its spot on Taylor Street will open Tuesday.
Owner Mike Sharma said he was excited to open Michael's Wine and Spirits, 1455 W. Taylor St., despite having to change his store's name from "Mike's" to "Michael's" in November, as stipulated by a neighborhood group.
"It was a long road to get here, but we’re finally here and now I'm just excited," Sharma said Monday. "I want the community to feel welcome in the store and hopefully the community receives me the same way."
Chloe Riley explains how "Mike's" liquor store wasn't classy enough for Little Italy:
The store's sign, however, has not been installed.
Neighborhood organization University Village Association pushed for the name change, which was eventually presented to Sharma by Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) as a condition of getting city approval to open the store.
"They said Mike sounds way too ghetto," said Sharma, who already owns Mike's Liquor and Tobacco in Rosemont.
At the time, Kathy Catrambone, executive director at the University Village Association, said her group asked for the name change because Michael's sounded "classier."
She stressed that her group in no way referred to the liquor shop as "ghetto."
In October, residents were divided over the need for a liquor store in the neighborhood, with Catrambone saying she had gathered more than 300 letters and signatures opposing the shop.
But after the neighborhood group pushed for strict regulations on the store, Ervin gave the store the go ahead. Now, similar to Gentile's — another wine shop on Taylor Street — any cigarettes sold at the shop must be priced over $10, and the shop can't carry single servings of beer under 24 ounces that cost less than $4.75, nor can it carry any wines under $7.75.
Michael's also must keep the same hours as Gentile's: noon-10 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays, noon-11 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays and noon-8 p.m. on Sundays.
The shop will host a complimentary wine-tasting for its soft opening Tuesday, followed by free beer and wine-tastings and a raffle for Friday's grand opening.