DOWNTOWN — Chicagoans headed to happy hour this week have a handful of local bars to thank.
An all-star team of Chicago haunts including the Fifty/50 in Wicker Park and Hubbard Inn in River North were instrumental in making happy hours legal again in Illinois, according to the Illinois Restaurant Association, which lobbied for the bill.
"I think it's a good law in terms of giving bar owners more flexibility," said Kevin Vaughan, co-owner of Chicago-based Vaughan Hospitality, which also joined the cause in Springfield. "It allows the bar owners to adapt better to the marketplace."
Gov. Bruce Rauner last week signed the new law, which caps drink discounts to four hours per day, 15 hours per week, and prohibits happy hours after 10 p.m. Participating bars must also provide seven days notice of their specials in advance.
Happy hours had been illegal since 1989.
"We think we have a great balanced approach here, and this is all about Illinois and its tourism," Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said last week.
Other restaurateurs involved included Sam Sanchez, who owns the John Barleycorn bars in Wrigleyville and River North and Chicago-based Four Corners Tavern Group, which runs bars across the city. Four Corners Director Ryan Indovina told DNAinfo Chicago last week that the restaurant group is "excited to try and offer a great environment for guests and see how it works."
Though Vaughan is glad happy hours are back, he's more excited about the "clarity" the law provides for bars regarding other things like bartender training and private parties. He's not sure yet whether any of his bars will have a happy hour.
"At the end of the day all bar owners have abilities to have specials," he said. "It’s all about quality and rotation, right? Bottomless pricing existed already."
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