East 75th Street residents win City Hall crackdown on bars blamed for summer mayhem

Three taverns agreed to “corrective-action plans” requiring safety improvements. A fourth is expected to follow. The battle over East 75th Street offers a window into street-level democracy, Chicago-style.

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Greater Grand Crossing residents have been urging the city to crack down on bars and provide a larger police presence on East 75th Street. They say the bars are magnets for spontaneous parties like this one in 2021 in the 300 block of East 75th Street.

Greater Grand Crossing residents have been urging the city to crack down on bars and provide a larger police presence on East 75th Street. They say the bars are magnets for spontaneous parties like this one in 2021 in the 300 block of East 75th Street.

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Chicago city officials have heard the residents of the area around East 75th Street loud and clear.

For a year, people who live near bars along six blocks of 75th Street east of the Dan Ryan Expressway in Greater Grand Crossing have been complaining to the city’s Liquor Control Commission that the lounges contribute to violence, noise and litter in the historic Black business strip on the South Side.

Now, in the past month, three bars have signed agreements with City Hall requiring them to:

  • Maintain 24-hour video surveillance.
  • Hire at least one guard who wears clothing that says “security” and stays for an hour after closing time to shoo away crowds gathering outside the establishments.
  • Report criminal activity and noise to the police.
  • Clean up trash that’s left on the public right of way nearby.
  • And those with outdoor patios can’t play music there.

The bars — which face the prospect of losing their business licenses if they don’t comply with those “corrective-action plans” — are President’s Lounge, 653 E. 75th St., Frances Cocktail Lounge, 307 E. 75th St., and 606 The Lounge, 606 E. 75th St., which is required to hire two guards — a man and a woman.

President’s Lounge, 653 E. 75th St.

President’s Lounge, 653 E. 75th St.

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And the 50 Yard Line Bar & Grill, 69 E. 75th St., is close to signing such an agreement, sources say.

The plans were created after the Liquor Control Commission held what it calls community nuisance meetings beginning in January.

People who live nearby say they hope the new agreements — as well as their continuing discussions with Chicago Police Department officials to establish a public safety plan for the strip — will help avoid a repeat of past summers when crowds gathered on the street, grew rowdy and sometimes violent, including a mass shooting in 2021 in which a woman was killed.

“This is the first phase of putting them on notice that the community has a problem with them,” says CeCe Edwards, one of about 30 members of the 75th Street Neighbors/Homeowners group who asked City Hall for the crackdown on the bars. “I am happy that we got through that bureaucratic quagmire.”

Edwards says the group plans to meet in June with commanders of the Gresham and Grand Crossing police districts, which border that stretch of East 75th Street. She says she also wants the city, for a few weekends in the coming months, to tow cars of bar patrons who illegally park in spots requiring residential permits.

Edwards says she has spoken with Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), who chairs the Chicago City Council’s license and consumer protection committee, about the problems on East 75th Street.

“We call ourselves ‘safety ambassadors,’ ” Edwards says. “We will continue filming the problems and filing complaints.”

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