DOWNTOWN — Videos of people vomiting and urinating around a River North condo building near the Bottled Blonde were shown during the second, sometimes tense day of testimony in the restaurant's hearing.
The videos were shown Wednesday during questioning of neighbor David Shiba, who said such incidents have occurred "weekly" since the Bottled Blonde, 504 N. Wells St., opened in 2015. Shiba said there were at least three occasions this spring where he saw vomit or urine — some of it partially cleaned — outside his condo building.
The Bottled Blonde could have its licenses suspended or revoked pending the outcome of the hearings.
The city alleges Bottle Blonde violated its legal agreement of operation, which includes the promise that it would operate primarily as a restaurant with less than half of its sales coming from liquor. The agreement also includes provisions that waiting patrons would be kept in a single-file line of no more than 25 people, that security would be provided and and that an employee would clean up litter.
Neighbors have argued the pizzeria is acting as a bar or club and not a restaurant. Last week, neighbors of the Bottled Blonde also testified to seeing vomit and litter outside their homes or around the restaurant. Neighbors who oppose the Bottled Blonde filled the room during the hearing Wednesday, some of them wearing orange buttons that said, "REVOKE."
Photos that Shiba shot showed vomit on the sidewalk in the area around his building and the Bottled Blonde. Videos from the surveillance cameras at the building where Shiba lives also showed a man unsteady on his feet while apparently peeing near the condo building's front door, a woman vomiting twice by the building's front door while her friends pat her back and another man apparently urinating in the condo building's garage, Shiba said.
Those incidents have become a weekly occurrence since the Bottled Blonde opened in 2015, said Shiba, who's lived in his condo for 13 years. Shiba said there appeared to have been an attempt to clean the vomit in some cases, though he said it looked as if a bucket of water had been thrown over the mess and that wasn't adequate.
Shiba's testimony led to sparks in the room, with the Bottled Blonde's attorney, Tim Fitzgerald, questioning if Shiba was enough of an expert in vomit to comment on how it had been cleaned.
At another point, Fitzgerald questioned if Shiba knew the vomit and urine had come from Bottled Blonde patrons or if Shiba knew if the people showing urinating and vomiting in the videos had come from the Bottled Blonde.
During a prolonged back-and-forth, Shiba said he thought the people behind the vomit and urine had come from the Bottled Blonde, though he had not seen them go into or come out of the restaurant. Shiba was removed from the room twice while Fitzgerald debated the point with Commissioner Rich Nolan.
"Sir, is it necessary to make faces?" Shiba asked Fitzgerald during one part of the exchange.
The hearing was expected to end Wednesday, but Fitzgerald asked if it could be extended because his witnesses had not attended. Nolan agreed to extend the hearing by one more day during a heated, prolonged exchange with Fitzgerald, but he promised the process would end after a final hearing next Tuesday — even if Fitzgerald can't finish questioning his witnesses by then.
The case and restaurant gained public attention after the Bottled Blonde posted a lengthy dress code that banned Jordan shoes, leather, "obnoxious" prints and "odd-colored" pants, among many other items.
Read the charges: