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Nouveau Tavern Arrests Prompt Ald. Reilly to Rally Neighbors to Fight Back

By Lizzie Schiffman Tufano | October 22, 2014 3:40pm | Updated on October 22, 2014 3:41pm
 Nouveau Tavern at 358 W. Ontario St. has been embattled with neighbors since it opened.
Nouveau Tavern at 358 W. Ontario St. has been embattled with neighbors since it opened.
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DNAinfo/Lizzie Schiffman Tufano

RIVER NORTH — The battle between Nouveau Tavern and nearby residents wages on, and this week, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) put out a call to rally the troops.

The River North alderman encouraged residents to show their opposition to the continued operation of the bar and restaurant at 358 W. Ontario St. at a series of court hearings following the issuance of six citations and arrests of six patrons last weekend.

The bar's owners have said they have been unfairly targeted because most of their customers are black.

Lizzie Schiffman Tufano says the strained relationship between the tavern and residents has gone on for months:

In its weekly "Reilly Report," the 42nd Ward office refers to a "series of disturbing incidents that occurred last weekend associated with Nouveau Tavern."

"On Friday night, a fight began inside Nouveau Tavern, which escalated and continued out into the street. Chicago Police officers were dispatched and used crowd control techniques to manage aggressive patrons and Nouveau Tavern's security guards," Reilly wrote in his newsletter.

"The Police Department arrested 4 individuals and issued 6 citations on Friday. While conducting a follow-up investigation on Saturday, the Chicago Police Department made two additional arrests for violations of Illinois' Concealed Carry Law," Reilly wrote.

Reilly called the tavern "a consistent source of 911 calls-for-service" and encouraged residents to:

•Attend a felony court hearing at 9 a.m. Friday for two gun possession charges.

•Show up at an administrative hearing at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10 about citations for underage drinking and "chronic illegal activity."

•And come to a misdemeanor court hearing at 9 a.m. Nov. 19 for aggravated assault to a police officer.

The alleged incidents are the latest in a long-standing conflict between Nouveau Tavern, its management and nearby River North residents.

Residents accuse the bar of operating a nightclub disguised as a restaurant and releasing loud, drunk patrons onto the streets in the early hours of the morning. They've complained at recent CAPS meetings that litter, vandalism and crime have spiked since Nouveau opened last winter.

Nouveau management says they've gone out of their way to comply with resident requests, which they say are unreasonable for a heavily trafficked street in the entertainment district.

In August, manager Teddy Gilmore told DNAinfo that most of the neighborhood complaints are "racially motivated" because of the tavern's predominantly black clientele. Profane, racially charged graffiti appeared on the building's exterior days after DNAinfo.com Chicago reported the manager's allegations.

Gilmore did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday about Reilly's newsletter.

After encouraging neighbors to attend the upcoming hearings as court advocates, Reilly assured residents in his newsletter that Cmdr. William Dunn of the Near North police district plans to dispatch additional neighborhood patrols to monitor Nouveau Tavern.

"Like most neighbors, I am incredibly frustrated with the multiple steps of 'due process' that has been afforded this establishment as they continue to violate city laws and negatively impact quality-of-life for residents," wrote Reilly, who lives in River North. "I continue to press the city to expedite these processes as fast as possible."

Reilly said addressing the "chronic problems" with Nouveau Tavern would be "a top priority for my office" moving forward.

Reilly's full comments can be seen here.

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