PORTAGE PARK — The operators of the Patio Theater will make their case to Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) and nearby residents March 29 in an effort to win permission to serve booze during shows and other events.
When the team operating the former movie palace — led by Charlie Burns — applied for the liquor license earlier this month Sposato said he planned to block it, adding that he was "baffled and surprised" that the application was filed without informing him or his office.
A city law that bans the sale of alcohol at the theater and the surrounding area was imposed by former Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) before he left office last year.
The meeting set for 6 p.m. March 29 at the Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, will give theater owner Eddie Carranza and Burns an opportunity "to present their plan of operation and answer all questions," Sposato said.
Sposato said he told Burns and Carranza he would not support their bid for a liquor license unless they held a community meeting and gave nearby residents a chance to offer input.
Carranza paid $2.5 million in the fall to take control of the 89-year-old theater, records show. The same team that manages the Portage Theater at the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District now operates the Patio Theater in the Irving Austin Business District.
Burns said a liquor license was needed to make the theater "economically viable."
The theater intends to show a "diverse range of movies" as well as comedy shows, lectures, concerts and performance art shows. Operators also plan to rent the theater for corporate events, Burns said.
Many other similar venues in Chicago — including the Portage Theater and Thalia Hall in Pilsen — have liquor licenses.
In most cases, the city's liquor commission follows the recommendation of the ward’s alderman when deciding to issue a liquor license.
Carranza also had a troubled record at the Congress Theater in Logan Square, which city officials determined created a nuisance because of five separate illegal incidents involving drugs from September 2011 to April 2012.
City officials yanked Carranza's liquor license at the Congress, sparking a long-running dispute between the theater owner and Arena that resulted in the closure of the Portage Theater from May 2013 to June 2014.
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