A couple downtown Naperville restaurants sold alcohol to diners on city-owned sidewalks with no reported problems last year.
So the permit that allowed them to conduct such sales should be made permanent, members of the city's liquor commission say.
Extending the permit beyond the yearlong trial, set to end this summer, would allow restaurants to decide if they want to invest in fencing to enclose their sidewalk tables and meet requirements, Steve Chirico, the city's mayor and liquor commissioner, said.
He said establishments such as Front Street Cantina and Sullivan's Steakhouse chose not to sell alcohol on sidewalks last summer and fall because they were unsure if the practice could continue.
"They're looking for some finality to this," Chirico said.
Naperville restaurants with outdoor patios on their own private property have been able to get permits to sell liquor there for some time, but not those with outdoor seating on the public right of way. That's why the city council last summer decided to extend the permission, temporarily, to cafes with sidewalk seating.
"The one-year cap is a huge safety net," council member Kevin Coyne said before the city approved the permit by a 5-3 vote last June. "If this turns out to be a problem, then we simply won't do it anymore."
Naperville police Detective Dan Riggs said the opposite was the case. There were "no issues, whatsoever," he said.
No one complained to Chirico, either, about any rowdiness or disruption because of alcohol on sidewalks at two restaurants that received the trial permit: The Craftsman by Two Brothers and Quiubo.
"People seemed to enjoy being outside and having that option," liquor commission member Chuck Maher said.
If the city council follows the commission's recommendation and makes the sidewalk liquor permit permanent, each establishment that wants it would have to apply and pay every year. Chirico said this provides an enforcement mechanism to deny applicants if they don't sell wisely.
The $500 permit allows alcohol service within enclosed areas on sidewalks until 10 p.m. Beverages must be poured and delivered by employees who have completed Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training.
Up to five downtown restaurants can receive the permit once the city approves a site plan for fencing and furniture. The layout must allow at least a 5-foot-wide area for pedestrians to pass.