PORTAGE PARK — Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) submitted 73 letters to city officials Thursday urging them to prevent the operators of the Patio Theater from serving booze during shows at the former movie palace.
Sposato said he also opposed the application for a liquor license at the Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road.
"There are too many unanswered questions about how this theater will be operated and how they plan on becoming a real partner with the residents to improve our community," Sposato wrote in an email to 38th Ward residents late Thursday.
In most cases, the city's liquor commission follows the recommendation of the ward’s alderman when deciding to issue a liquor license.
Along with the letters opposing the application, Sposato said he gave Liquor Commissioner Gregory Steadman 11 letters supporting theater operator Charlie Burns' application for a liquor license.
In response to the alderman's statement, Burns said Thursday he planned to work with Sposato "in the short and long term" in an effort "to make the theater economically viable while preserving it’s historic beauty."
But the ability to serve beer, wine and liquor during shows at the single-screen theater is critical to making ends meet at the theater, Burns said.
"Responsible sales of adult beverages will be the only way that we can keep the lights and projector shining into the future," Burns said.
A community meeting March 29 revealed a community split over Burns' application for a liquor license.
While opponents said they feared the former movie palace would be transformed into a "nightclub" with a liquor license, supporters said they wanted the theater on Portage Park's western edge in the Irving Austin Business District to thrive, and the ability to serve beer and wine would allow the theater to make ends meet.
Steadman has two months to make a decision on the application, which will be based on whether there is evidence suggesting that the community would be harmed if alcohol is served at the theater, which is owned by Eddie Carranza, Sposato said.
After that, Burns and the theater's management have 20 days to come up with a legally enforceable agreement to protect the community, Sposato said.
Any agreement would be drafted with "strong community input," Sposato said.
"If we move forward at that point it will be because the Patio Theater operators have agreed to a plan of operation that is in the best interests of the 38th Ward residents," the alderman said.
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