New Category of Liquor License for Coffee Shops Follows Starbucks Request

The village board’s committee of the whole approved a new category of liquor licenses that would apply to coffee shops. The decision follows a request from Starbucks earlier this year to implement its new “Evenings” model at the Starbucks at Arlington Heights Road and Lillian Avenue, 1802 N. Arlington Heights Road.

Following the Starbucks request, Village of Arlington Heights staff conducted a survey of liquor codes of 13 other communities — Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Elgin, Elk Grove, Evanston, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Skokie, and Wheeling. It was discovered that only three communities require a full menu of food available when alcohol is served.

“Due to the restrictive nature we have not been able to accommodate a few new business requests,” Mikula said. The village has also had to turn down liquor license requests from a wine cafe, a craft beer establishment, a cocktail bar and brewery with a tap room, but no food.


Original plans by for Arlington Beer Co. on Hickory Avenue between Kensington Road and Miner Street submitted to village staff members in 2014 included brewery tours, tastings and a tap room. Since there was no kitchen in the plans, the request went against village liquor license code. The Village of Arlington Heights would have had to create a category for Arlington Beer Co.

The Arlington Beer Co. also proposed having food trucks park on the premises for extended periods, but that plan was also against village code. The Hickory-Kensington TIF district progress also created uncertainty for Arlington Beer Co. and owner scrapped the plans for Arlington Heights and moved to Itasca — even after large distillery equipment was delivered to the Hickory Avenue address.

“I can appreciate that there is a trend going on and I don’t want to put our businesses at a disadvantage,”

— Trustee John Scaletta

“I do not want to see bars ever again in this town like that (as tavern without food service).”

— Trustee Jim Tinaglia

While Arlington Heights officials are considering loosening the rules regarding what food establishments can have a liquor license, the local leaders remain resistant to liquor-only bars and taverns. The board cautioned against changing the liquor code further. The Village of Arlington Heights will be studying how neighboring communities have permitted new establishments such as microbreweries or craft distilleries, how much liquor or beer is allowed for serving, and hours of operation.

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The current liquor license that applies to consumption on premises includes the following law in Article V Section 13-501 …

(1.) Class “AA” Licensees which shall authorize the retail sale, in restaurants only, of alcoholic liquor for consumption on the premises where sold. Such licenses may be issued and retained by those establishment which:

(a) Have a seating capacity at tables for a minimum of seventy-five (75) persons for food service;

(b) Are in fact operated as restaurants; and

(c) Offer their patrons full and complete meals, including dinner menu, and in which the serving of alcoholic beverages is incidental and complementary to the service of such meals.