RIVER WEST — Funky Buddha will close for good — just not yet, an alderman said this week.
At a meeting Tuesday with city liquor commission officials, Funky Buddha co-owner Nick Stavropoulos indicated that he plans to sell the business and will close down within 10 months, according to Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th).
"He says he just can't close [the club] until he sells it. He'll lose money, he told us," said Burnett, who was also at the meeting.
Funky Buddha's owner may sell the business to a buyer who wants to open a restaurant in the building, Burnett said. The bar rents space in a building at 728 W. Grand Ave.
Stavropoulos did not return calls Tuesday.
But if Funky Buddha's owners want to continue to operate the club until they sell it, they must make changes now, Burnett said. In a review of the bar's operations plan Tuesday, the alderman and city officials laid out new rules.
"I just want to make sure in between that time, we don't have no trouble," Burnett said.
Two November shootings near Funky Buddha prompted neighbors to call for the longtime's bar's closing, and hundreds of residents signed a neighborhood petition asking Burnett to work to shut the bar down.
Owners voluntarily closed the club for seven days starting last week.
When the bar reopens this week, Funky Buddha must have a responsible, vetted security team in place and the bar must enforce a no-hat dress code, Burnett said. Security will be stationed outside the bar, and owners are expected to keep the area outside the club clean.
The alderman encouraged owners to institute a cover charge, Burnett said. The alderman said the bar used to charge a cover and attracted a less violent crowd.
People willing to spend a little money "tend to act right," said Barnett. "When you let people come in for free, you get anything."
Near West Side Police Cmdr. Melissa Staples said last week that she wants Funky Buddha patrons "wanded" with a metal detector before entering the bar. Patrons now are "patted down" before entering the business, Stavropoulos previously confirmed.
The alderman said that owners were "very cooperative" Tuesday, but if the rules aren't met, or shootings continue, he will move to revoke Funky Buddha's liquor license immediately.
If problems continue, "we'll go to court to close him down. Period," Burnett said.
Neighbors have started the city process to close the club now, according to Bob Aiken, vice president of the Neighbors of West Loop. But that process can stretch from 1½ to two years, he said.
The push to close Funky Buddha comes after two shootings near the bar. In one of them, the shooter worked at the bar.
Donald Shedrick, 47, of Auburn Gresham, was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm in connection with a Nov. 9 shooting at the lounge. Stavropoulos has confirmed Shedrick worked at Funky Buddha as a security guard.
The Nov. 9 shooting was captured on a 77-second surveillance video provided to DNAinfo Chicago.
Prosecutors said Shedrick fired five or six shots outside the club at 3:20 a.m. Nov. 9. One bullet hit someone's coat, but that person wasn't seriously injured, prosecutors said.
Two other men were charged with aggravated battery in connection with the shooting, including Cortney Johnson, who prosecutors said was also a bar employee.
On Nov. 30, prosecutors said an off-duty Cook County Sheriff's officer heard gunshots about 2:55 a.m., ran toward the noise and spotted 27-year-old Fernando Lopez shooting at a group of people outside Funky Buddha.
Lopez pointed his gun at the officer, who opened fire, striking Lopez several times, prosecutors said.
A second man, later identified as 27-year-old Mario Orta, picked up Lopez's gun and pointed it toward the officer. Orta fired shots at the officer then fled, while Lopez was hospitalized with gunshot wounds, police said.
Lopez was charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer and other crimes. Orta faces attempted murder and other charges.
Stavropoulos and police said surveillance video at the lounge confirms the Nov. 30 shooting was spurred by a car accident, not a fight inside the lounge.
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