The owner of an Elgin downtown venue said he's hopeful a concert by the punk band Smoking Popes will take place later this month after encouraging comments from city officials.
The concert is scheduled Jan. 26 at Legit Dogs & Ice, 51 S. Grove Ave., which has hosted about five concerts since it opened in early 2018. But as it turns out, the venue's occupancy permit doesn't allow concerts, only music as an "accessory use" like an ensemble playing in a corner of a restaurant, Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley said.
Members of the city council on Wednesday told Legit Dogs & Ice owner Matthew Habib that if he files an application for a conditional use permit, the city will do its best to work with him -- possibly by issuing a temporary permit -- to allow the Smoking Popes concert to happen. However, no more concerts would be allowed until the permit were issued, which entails a planning and zoning commission hearing and approval from the city council.
"We will try to move the conditional use through the process as quickly as we can," Councilwoman Tish Powell said.
One caveat: Before the Jan. 26 concert, a noise test must be conducted showing that the volume of the music wouldn't disturb nearby residents, Cogley said. That's because previous bars and restaurants inside the building have caused noise complaints from residents of the Fountain Square on the River building across the street.
The discussion took place Wednesday during a meeting of the liquor control commission, which includes all members of the city council.
"We're not against music or concerts," Cogley said, adding there have been no noise complaints about concerts hosted by Legit Dogs & Ice.
Habib -- who before he launched his business publicly talked about his plan to host concerts, particularly punk rock -- said he was under the impression his occupancy permit allowed for concerts. Before he opened, Habib said, he gave the city his business plan, which includes concerts.
Cogley and Community Development Director Marc Mylott met with Habib on Dec. 11 to discuss the concert issue. Habib ended up hosting a concert a few days later and was fined $500. Habib said it was a business decision, because a contract had been signed and tickets had been sold.
"While I don't necessarily agree with everything that's been said, I certainly appreciate that everyone has their own stance on the matter," Habib told the city council.
Mayor David Kaptain said he takes issue with people on social media who say the city is preventing Legit Dogs & Ice from being successful. "We want this to be successful," he told Habib, "but we want to have some help from you."
Councilman Corey Dixon agreed, saying, "Everybody here wants to see you do well, that's without question."
Meanwhile, city council members on Wednesday approved a liquor license issued to Kevin Echevarria, the landlord of 51 S. Grove, known as Dream Hall. The new license will allow the opening of a bar that can serve alcohol throughout the building, including to customers of Legit Dogs & Ice, until midnight every day.
Liquor at Dream Hall used to be served by the Elgin Area Taproom, which moved out in early December after a dispute with Echevarria. The taproom was cited for serving liquor to a minor and staying open past allowed hours, Cogley said.
As for Echevarria, he was issued one citation in October for unnecessarily pulling a fire alarm during Nightmare on Chicago Street and another one a few weeks ago after a keg was brought in for a birthday party and the building didn't have a liquor license, Cogley said.
Councilman Toby Shaw told Echevarria that he, too, will need to keep noise to a minimum. "It's very important to the credibility of what we're doing here, as well as your operations."