Oak Lawn approves restaurant liquor deliveries; Orland Park says no

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Village boards in Orland Park and Oak Lawn both recently addressed the issue of allowing local businesses to deliver alcoholic beverages, and it was handled differently by each community.

At the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on July 11, trustees voted to approve a Class B packaged liquor license for Italian Kitchen, a new business that Ed Pilarz plans to open at 6765 W. 95th St. At the previous village board meeting in June, a Class H liquor license, for restaurants without a bar, was also approved. But because the business won’t be a typical sit-down restaurant, approval of the Class B license was postponed until the July meeting to allow for more discussion.

While Oak Lawn trustees discussed at length the pros and cons of allowing liquor deliveries before granting approval, the following week in Orland Park, the village board voted to ban liquor deliveries before any business requested permission to offer it.         

Pilarz explained that his business, which is opening in a vacant site that most recently held a 7-Eleven, would offer customers several choices. They will be able to either come in and order prepared Italian meals to take home, or the ingredients needs to make the meal themselves. Meals will also be delivered. The Class B license for packaged goods will allow customers to buy wine, beer or hard liquor by the bottle to take home with their meal, and will allow liquor to also be delivered with any order.

The restaurant will have seating for 16, so Pilarz said he expects most of his business to come from carry-out and deliveries.

“A large part of my revenue is going to come from outside the community,” he said.

“Will you be selling pints of liquor?” asked Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th), pointing out that only liquor stores are allowed to sell pint bottles in Oak Lawn.

“Yes, we will. But we won’t have a large selection. I don’t have a lot of space and I will only be carrying the top five brands (of the various types of liquor).”

He also pointed out that liquor is already being delivered to homes by Binny’s and other liquor stores, and as part of grocery deliveries made through services such as Peapod.

“He has to be able to compete with existing businesses,” said Mayor Sandra Bury.

The board members were generally in agreement that Pilarz’s business plan is inventive and wished him well.

“I think it is an interesting idea. It should be very popular,” said Trustee Tim Desmond (1st), whose district includes Italian Kitchen.

But at the Orland Park Village Board meeting on July 17, Mayor Keith Pekau saw it another way. He said there was a “loophole” in local liquor laws that would allow alcohol to be delivered, and it needed to be closed. At his suggestion, the board approved by a vote of 4-1 an amendment to the municipal code involving liquor licenses that will prevent alcoholic beverages from being delivered.

“I checked and none of our local businesses are currently delivering liquor, so we won’t be hurting anyone,” said the mayor.

When Orland Park Trustee James Dodge made the point about Binny’s and others already making deliveries, Pekau said those businesses have state licenses that supersede local ones. Dodge agreed that with e-commerce, the deliveries are made more than 12 hours after the order is placed, while the goal of the ordinance is to prevent immediate deliveries of liquor with food orders from restaurants.

“If we prohibit it now we can always revisit it at a later time,” said Trustee Mike Carroll.

“If we do decide we want to allow delivery, we should have another (type of) liquor license added,” Pekau suggested.

The only trustee to vote against the ordinance was Dan Calandriello, who said there was no need for it.

“No one is doing it now, so we don’t need to address it,” he said. “The issue of liability is the responsibility of the business owner,” he added.