By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
Plainfield has a new liquor ordinance on the books. But not without some discussion, and a little confusion over at least one definition.
Earlier this month, the members of the Village Board approved a plan that cleans up the liquor code, consolidating and clarifying the ordinance.
The new code includes some extensive changes, such as the removal of unused definitions, clarifying hours of operation, and outlining restrictions for consumption.
Before that approval, however, there was some confusion and discussion on what the change means for Sunday morning brunch.
One holdover from the old code is a restriction on serving alcohol on Sundays until noon. However, per the new code, restaurants and bar and grill establishments “may commence the sale of alcoholic liquor at 10 a.m. on Sundays when such sales are in conjunction with the service of a Sunday brunch.”
The word “brunch” is not defined by code.
Trustee Margie Bonuchi said she found that wording a little confusing.
“Is it a 10 a.m. start time across the board for everyone, or if you’re doing a brunch you can have the 10 a.m. start time but if it was just a restaurant serving food you can’t serve until noon, or how does that work?” Bonuchi asked.
According to village staff, the Sunday distinction is for brunch or special events. In either case, that “brunch” must be served at a table, and not at the bar. Absent one of those events, an establishment cannot serve liquor until noon.
“My personal opinion is that I disagree with that,” Bonuchi said. “If I’m an owner and I host a brunch, and I serve food and drinks at a table and not at the bar, that could be the brunch. But if I’m an establishment that has a bar and I have an area of tables, because I’m not calling it a brunch… that wouldn’t work.”
Bonuchi worried that the provision could be unfair, confusing, or could cause any restaurant to simply utilize the word “brunch” to start serving alcohol two hours earlier on Sundays.
Mayor Mike Collins said originally, there had only been one local establishment asking for the earlier liquor time to accommodate brunch or special events. At that time, an amendment allowing for alcohol to be served earlier for special events was created. However, since then, other restaurants have followed suit.
“I’m really not in favor of opening it up to everybody, let’s start drinking at 10 on Sunday,” Collins said. “I think, excuse me, but I think there are better things to do early on a Sunday morning than go to a bar and drink.”
“Whether people drink or not drink, they’re going to do what they’re going to do, you want a drink at 10 in the morning, you’re going to find a way to do it,” Bonuchi said. “I’m just saying, now there are about four or five places in downtown Plainfield on a Sunday that are calling it brunch… so I can turn around and call it brunch in my restaurant now and I’m able to serve at 10. I just think it’s an odd distinction.”
Despite any confusion, the board approved the new liquor code.
The code now consolidates the villages previous 31 liquor license classes to a total of 15 classes, with carve outs for special permits for beer gardens, outdoor dining areas, and special events.
Liquor license fees will range from $1,300 to $2,500 annually.
This is the first revamping of the liquor code since 2007.