Chuck E. Cheese could lose license

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Oak Lawn trustees discussed the possibility of revoking the business license of a local restaurant because the village has received a plethora of police calls. The topic was brought up at the village board meeting Tuesday night.

This was the second consecutive meeting that public safety issues at the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant at 4031 W. 95th Street was brought up. Indicating the severity of the situation, at the Sept. 13 board meeting Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) revealed that Chuck E. Cheese President Roger Cardinale and other company officials had come from Irving, Tex., on Sept. 10, to discuss the matter with him, Mayor Sandra Bury, Village Manager Larry Deetjen and legal counsel. The company officials said then that they would hire a security consultant to come up with solutions, and issue a report of the findings before Tuesday’s meeting.

“The report did arrive at 3:30 p.m. I haven’t had time to digest it all, but I will be providing copies (to other board members) and I would appreciate getting your input,” he said. Chuck E. Cheese officials have been invited to speak at the Oct. 25 Village Board meeting. They were originally going to come to the Oct. 11 meeting, but Vorderer said they asked to postpone the meeting because of a religious holiday.

Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) pointed out that Oak Lawn’s 911 service received more than 40 calls related to the restaurant last year, and at least 40 this year already. He said he agreed with recent comments made by Bury on television news that this might be the right time to address the business license. “I have to agree with the safety of children and families are the main issue. I also believe that the management has tried very hard to be good neighbors.” Vorderer took issue with him when Streit said the village needs to be “proactive,” and criticized “the lack of leadership over the past four years in resolving this.”

“I have been working on this issue since I was elected three years ago,” said Vorderer. He noted that local owners of the Chuck E. Cheese establishment have already taken several steps to address problems. These include hiring off-duty Oak Lawn police officers as security guards, as well as removing seating to reduce occupancy from 611 to 482 people. The owners of the shopping plaza where the restaurant is located have also been supplying outdoor private security patrols.

“My main concern is the safety of the children who go there,” said Vorderer. “I go there myself sometimes with my grandchildren. It is nice and clean inside, with families enjoying themselves. But these problems often seem to be domestic, with fights breaking out and they quickly get out of control.”

Trustee Tim Desmond (1st) wondered if the village could get into legal trouble if the license is revoked now. “There was a gang-related shooting outside there (in 2012) and I don’t think they even lost their liquor license then.” He asked if the village would be looking at a lawsuit if the license was revoked, but Village Attorney Paul O’Grady said the village would not be in any legal trouble.

Vorderer noted that most of the trustees weren’t on the board in 2012, and Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) pointed out that the restaurant management voluntarily gave up its liquor license. He agreed with Desmond that the owners need to be given “due process” when it comes to revoking business licenses.

“We want to give the owners due process,” said Bury. “We won’t do anything until we hear what they have to say at the Oct. 25 meeting. But after everything that has already been done, the next step would have to be board action. Revoking the license is a possibility.”