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Cleo's Wants to Be 4 a.m. Bar, Owner Asks for Neighbor Support

By Alisa Hauser | November 17, 2015 9:51am
 Cleo's at 1935 W. Chicago Ave.
Cleo's at 1935 W. Chicago Ave.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — The owner of Cleo's wants the neighborhood bar to stay open until 5 a.m. on Sundays and 4 a.m throughout the week and is working to get the required permission from neighbors.

Scott Floersheimer, owner of Cleo's, 1935 W. Chicago Ave. in Ukrainian Village is planning to apply for a late hour license "on or about" Dec. 2, according to a letter mailed to neighbors by Gregory Steadman, the city's Liquor Control Commissioner last month.

Under city ordinance, Floersheimer would need to get permission from a few hundred registered voters living within 500 feet of the sports bar just east of the Chicago and Damen avenues intersection.

Currently there are 138 other late-hour bars, according to the city's data portal.  The nearest late-hour spot that revelers on Chicago Avenue tend to frequent after Cleo's closes at 2 a.m. most nights, 3 a.m. on Sundays, is The Continental, 2801 W. Chicago Ave. in Humboldt Park.

On Monday, Floersheimer said that if the late-hour license is granted, the bar's kitchen, which currently closes at 1 a.m., would stay open until 4 a.m.

Floersheimer said he anticipates that many the late-hour customers will be bar and restaurant workers who are looking to go somewhere after their shifts end.

"I/we are not just some flash in the pan operators, but in all actuality, a very experienced group who pride themselves on running a great business in every sense of the word," Floersheimer wrote in a letter to residents that he plans to mail out to neighbors on Tuesday.

Rebecca Swayze, a resident who says she lives within 162 feet of Cleo's,  said that she and other neighbors sent their objections to Steadman and Ald. Joe Moreno (1st).

"We and our neighbors pretty much can't open our windows in the summer because there seems to be a constant cheering section for some game or other. It's become worse since they installed TVs out there and Scott writes it off as if we hate sports and don't understand that the Hawks won the cup," Swayze said.

Swayze, who also posted her opposition to the license on a private neighborhood Facebook page with some 4,000 members, said she does not think a 4 or 5 a.m. license is necessary for anybody.

"All it does is cause more loitering and crime and noise so the bar owners can be the 'go to' after hours and rake in the dough. I would really love to hear Scott's argument for how this will enhance the neighborhood. I can't see who it would benefit but him and his staff," Swayze said.

In his letter, Floersheimer addressed noise complaints.

"As I responded then [on Facebook] and will reiterate now, the noise was an issue with a few of our neighbors solely as it related to noise coming from the patio this past summer, specifically during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Playoff run and the USA Women’s run towards winning the World Cup," he wrote.

A majority, or 51 percent, of registered voters living within 500 feet of Cleo's would need to sign off on the plan, according to Mika Stambaugh, a spokeswoman for the city's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which oversees liquor licenses. 

Based on a city database from the Board of Elections, there were 715 registered voters on the list when Cleo’s inquired about the late hour license, which means 364 neighbors would need to approve of the late hour request.

Moreno did not respond to requests for comment. In 2012 Moreno rejected Innjoy's request for a late-hour license after several neighbors living near that bar at 2051 W. Division St. complained.

Last October, while Moreno was campaigning to retain his seat, Cleo's gave a $2,500 donation to Moreno's, Board of Election records show.

Asked about the donation, Floersheimer said that the $2,500 was "to help his election fund as I fully support the alderman."

Floersheimer, who bought Cleo's five years ago from a previous owner who started the bar in the early 1990s, said the contribution to Moreno had "obviously nothing to do with licensing. We didn't even know we were going to try for the license [when we gave the donation.]"

Floershimer said he also donated to Ald. Scott Waguespack's 32nd ward re-election campaign too, as another bar that he owns,  Jack & Gingers, 2048 W. Armitage Ave. is in Waguespack's Bucktown ward.

"I like and support them both and will continue to support both of their campaigns regardless of any licensing issues," Floersheimer said.

Samantha Partrick, a bartender at High Dive, which is across the street from Cleo's, said that she would support a late hour license at the neighboring bar.

"This corridor, we all get along.  Their business will bring us business," said Partrick, who predicted that a late-hour license could be better for the Chicago Avenue corridor east of Damen.

"Continental is their competition. They have a monopoly on this area. Everyone you see here goes there after the other bars close," Partrick said.

In other news near Cleo's, Floersheimer confirmed to DNAinfo Chicago that he bought a dilapidated building next store to Cleo's at 1939 W. Chicago Ave. three weeks ago.

"The main impetus for buying it was because the homeless and drug use situation was bad for business and the neighborhood. We are truly not sure what we plan on doing with it in the future. Perhaps expansion, rehab, new concept, we really don't know," he said.

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