Home Business Wilmette Trustees Give Thumbs Up to Marbled Meat and Neat Whiskey

Wilmette Trustees Give Thumbs Up to Marbled Meat and Neat Whiskey

Wilmette Trustees Give Thumbs Up to Marbled Meat and Neat Whiskey

A butcher walks right into a bar. Actually, on this case, it’s the opposite way around, and it’s a brand new one for the Village of Wilmette.

During their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, Wilmette trustees discussed a pitch from local entrepreneurs to show Al’s Meat Market right into a dual-threat business: a butcher shop by day and a bourbon bar by night.

The Village Board gave a positive review to the concept and directed village staff to draft conditions for what can be a brand new class of liquor license. Trustees will review a draft of the ordinance at a January meeting, said Village Manager Mike Braiman.

The concept comes from Keith and Molly Veneziano and Mike Chookaszian, the latter of whom owns the constructing, 1165 Wilmette Ave., by which Al’s Meat Market has operated for greater than 20 years. Chookaszian is also part-owner of a restaurant group that features neighboring restaurants Pescadero and Napolita. The Venezianos own The R.O.M.E. Sandwich Company, a pop-up business that has run out of Al’s Meat Marketplace for the past three summers.

A preliminary sketch of the butcher shop-bar concept into account by the Village of Wilmette. | Image from Village of Wilmette

The mixed-use concept for Al’s would reimagine the space, enabling a 9 a.m.-5 p.m., five-days-a-week butchery and evening-hours, seven-days-a-week bar. Within the proposal, the petitioners are requesting a liquor license that enables for as much as 75 percent liquor sales. The Village Board must approve a brand new classification of liquor license to make that occur.

Village Attorney Jeffrey Stein explained that each other Village liquor license that enables on-site alcohol consumption requires the licensee to earn not more than 50 percent of its sales from alcohol.

“This might be a primary for Wilmette,” Stein said.

Chookaszian and the Venezianos told Wilmette trustees on Nov. 28 that Al’s Meat Market is struggling to survive, and so they hope the brand new enterprise will give it, in addition to downtown Wilmette, a shot of life.

Molly Veneziano said the group plans to revitalize the space by returning it “back to its original glory” with a better, tin roof, wood flooring and more. In accordance with preliminary plans for the business, a J-shaped bar and just a few tables would dominate the front of the home, pushing among the market’s display cases and shelving to the back room; nevertheless, the first display case would remain on the east wall.

“We wish to maintain this community butcher shop and to ensure that this institution to stay, it must evolve,” she said. “And we consider it will profit from the supplemental revenue a bar would offer.”

Al Spera opened Al’s Meat Market in Winnetka within the Nineteen Sixties. The business was passed on to Al’s son Joe Spera, who moved the market to downtown Wilmette in 2001. Joe Spera still owns and operates Al’s Meat Market and is a community fixture along Wilmette Avenue.

Under a brand new arrangement, the Venezianos and Chookaszian would own the space, and Keith Veneziano said improvements would even be made to the butcher business, calling it a “tremendous opportunity to do somewhat higher on that side.”

Al’s Meat Market and owner Joe Spera (background) have been in downtown Wilmette since 2001. | The Record File Photo

The three also consider the bar can be a welcome and unique addition to downtown Wilmette, an area that has develop into lately a nightitme destination in the world. They said the bar can be a complement to the encompassing restaurants.

“It is a strategy to save the butcher shop and do something Wilmette needs,” Chookaszian said. ” … I believe it really matches with the restaurants in Wilmette.”

The bar’s hours would mimic those of surrounding restaurants with the flexibility to remain open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Many details of the concept should be worked out, but plans for the spot include serving food. The applicants provided Wilmette with a sample small-bites menu with items equivalent to charcuterie and cheese plates, dips, hush puppies and meatball sliders. It was also suggested that the bar could encourage patrons to order from local restaurants by placing menus and knowledge on its tables.

The Village of Wilmette’s Judiciary Committee previously discussed the concept and brought it to the Village Board on Nov. 28. Committee member and Trustee Stephen Leonard expressed his support for the thought.

“I’m an enormous advocate for this,” he said. “It’s wonderful. I really like the concept and love the team they put together.”

Most of Leonard’s board peers echoed his sentiment.

Trustee Gina Kennedy said she was on the fence. She wondered if there was an area demand for this sort of business, stating that downtown Wilmette’s restaurant boom has added loads of spots to grab a drink. Kennedy also wanted more data on public safety in the world.

Braiman and Stein responded that they spoke with the police department earlier that day and that prior to now yr, authorities fielded six nighttime calls near establishments in a position to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. in downtown Wilmette. Only two of those calls, Stein said, involved patrons of those establishments.

“There just isn’t a demonstrated public safety issue with places serving alcohol until 1 a.m.,” Braiman said.

On the board’s request, Village staff will draft an ordinance to create a brand new liquor license that supports the butcher shop-bar concept, which is able to include conditions that the butcher shop should be open and operational in the course of the day and the bar offer food. The liquor license would also only pertain to the downtown Wilmette business district.

Multiple trustees identified that the board’s eventual decision will set a precedent and will draw similar requests and cause the board to contemplate more unique liquor licenses.

Trustee Kate Gjaja welcomed the conversations and expressed interest in Wilmette reviewing its past liquor-related precedents and ordinances to see in the event that they need updates to align with the times.

“We must always understand the history of how we got so far as a community,” she said. ” … I believe there’s some interesting history to that that we must always just concentrate on so we just don’t blindly proceed to have (mandatory food sales) as requirement. We may resolve we would like to, but I believe it’s value us understanding that.”

Like many Recent Trier Township communities, Wilmette was a dry town — not allowing the sale of alcohol — for a long time following national Prohibition within the Nineteen Twenties. That modified in 1974 — a decade before Winnetka (1982) and a long time before Kenilworth (2017) — with a referendum to permit liquor sales in grocery stores and restaurants.

Alcohol-related regulations have evolved since; though, if trustees pass the Al’s Meat Market concept, it will be the primary liquor license to permit for a primary sum of sales to be for alcohol.

Trustee Kathy Dodd, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the interesting case is why the committee desired to drive a discussion on the board level.

“We’d like to acknowledge that perhaps that is moving us within the direction of a tavern and we may be open to that,” she said. “We shouldn’t be surprised if we do that … that we would get one other request. The discussion to maneuver forward is place to begin.”

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