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Will Bottled Blonde Be 'Rowdy Hooters,' as Neighbors Fear? Landlord Says No

 A scene from a Bottled Blonde in Arizona.
A scene from a Bottled Blonde in Arizona.
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RIVER NORTH — The owner of a River North building that's set to open a pizzeria/beer garden has fired back against neighbors opposed to the restaurant.

Sean Conlon, whose company owns the building at 504 N. Wells St., said he doesn't get "the gist" of the petition neighbors are circulating against Bottled Blonde, the Arizona-based restaurant he signed as a tenant earlier this year. 

Bottled Blonde, which markets itself as an "Italian-inspired" eatery with wood-fired pizza and other fare, has come under fire from neighbors who liken the restaurant to a "rowdy Hooters." The petition had 134 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon, organizer David Shiba said.

Conlon dismissed this comparison when reached by DNAinfo Chicago, saying he met with Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and agreed to all his terms for the restaurant, which has yet to open or receive a liquor license. Conlon believes Shiba and the petition group rushed to conclusions about Bottled Blonde based off photos from its Facebook page and other sites, and that the restaurant here will be "very different" from prior iterations. 

"There's not even a slight comparison to Hooters," Conlon said. "If [Shiba] has an objection against pretty waitresses, he shouldn’t live in River North."

Reilly did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Shiba — who is president of a condominium association next to the planned restaurant — said he doesn't object "personally" to what the waitresses will wear, nor does he feel those who signed the petition care "what happens inside" the restaurant. 

But the group is worried about Bottled Blonde hosting a late-night DJ, as the Arizona restaurants do, and the bar overserving patrons who may cause a ruckus on Wells Street. Shiba said neighbors took similar issue with the building's prior tenant, SushiSamba Rio, which closed last year. 

"We don't have nightclubs, per se, along the Wells Street corridor," Shiba said. "It's a different situation [from the rest of River North]."

Conlon disputed this as well, saying any late-night music will be confined inside.

"It's not Cabo Wabo or any of those sort of things," Conlon said. "It's a sophisticated bar in a very sophisticated neighborhood."

Shiba said his group is not totally opposed to the restaurant coming to the neighborhood. He recognizes he lives in a neighborhood known for its nightlife, and hopes the petition will just broker a meeting between neighbors, Bottled Blonde representatives and Reilly so there's mutual understanding before opening. Conlon said the restaurant has not yet set an opening date. 

"This is definitely not a 'not in my neighborhood situation,'" Shiba said. "We know Bottled Blonde is coming. We just want everyone to be a good neighbor." 

Eater Chicago first reported news of the petition. A representative of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Evening Entertainment Group, which owns Bottled Blonde and other restaurants, did not return a message. 

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