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Neighbors mixed on Taco Bell’s plans to move into Wicker Park, seek liquor license

Taco Bell wants a liquor license for a restaurant it plans to open in Wicker Park. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno isn’t exactly rolling out a welcome mat for Taco Bell, which plans to move into Wicker Park and serve alcohol.

“The feedback I’m getting is that it just doesn’t fit the fabric of the neighborhood, which is local independent entrepreneurs,” said Moreno (1st), noting that taco restaurants such as Big Star and Antique Taco have helped set the neighborhood’s taco tone. “Were sort of like ground zero for what’s going on with authentic street tacos.”

He’s also not thrilled about Taco Bell serving alcohol.

“I am going to ask the liquor commissioner to take a hard look at their application,” he said. “We’ll see how the neighborhood reacts, but I don’t think the neighborhood supports a fast-food type restaurant having a liquor license.”

The Taco Bell will be at 1439 N. Milwaukee Ave., along a commercial corridor lined with bars, restaurants and retail shops. The storefront is boarded up. A construction permit is posted inside the front door.

Ashley Sioson, a spokeswoman for Taco Bell, was mum on the matter. “We don’t have any information to share at the moment. However, there will be new developments closer to summer.”

Neighborhood reactions were mixed.

“I’m fairly open to it,” said Michael Gillilan, 27, who works at a nearby record store and lives in Logan Square. “There’s not a lot of cheap places to eat around here, so it’s not the worst thing in the world.”

The potential of the fast-food spot serving alcohol didn’t faze Gillilan. “It will probably make for a messy late night, but it is what it is.”

Billy Banks, 39, shared his thoughts while pushing one of two strollers with his wife as the couple tried to get their three kids home before one of them had a meltdown.

“It’s cheap food, so it’s probably going to bring an interesting crowd into the neighborhood late at night. And if you throw alcohol into the mix, I’m not really excited about the idea,” said Banks, an entrepreneur.

His wife, Jennifer, was plainspoken about having a Taco Bell move in: “No. Just, no.”

The Wicker Park restaurant would be the first Taco Bell to serve alcohol, according to the restaurant blog, Chicago.Eater.com.