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Bottled Blonde sues city, Rahm Emanuel in last-ditch effort to avoid shutdown

Bottled Blonde at 504 N. Wells St. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

A River North restaurant facing the loss of its liquor license and a likely shutdown is making a last-ditch effort to survive its months-long fight against the city.

In an eight-page lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County court, Bottled Blonde argued its case for staying open, saying its legal planning was inconvenienced when its attorney was jailed on drug charges during disciplinary hearings.

City officials started the disciplinary process in June 2017 after deeming the restaurant failed to adhere to a revised plan of operation, court documents show.

Among the city’s 25 complaints were the restaurant operating primarily as a bar — with more than half of its revenue coming from alcohol sales — while only holding an incidental liquor license, which allowed the restaurant to serve alcohol as part of its primary restaurant business.

The city’s other allegations included the restaurant’s failure to clean up litter and vomit on the sidewalk and street, and management’s inability to control noise in the surrounding area.

The restaurant’s lawsuit claims the city didn’t properly sign the revised plan of operation after Mayor Rahm Emanuel left the office of the Liquor Control Commissioner vacant. Instead, it says the Department of Business Affairs signed the plan, which the lawsuit claims makes the plan void.

The suit also says the city’s witnesses to the allegations were speculating about their claims, and that the noise, litter and vomit could have come from any neighboring restaurants or bars.

Also during the disciplinary process, the restaurant’s lawyer was incarcerated, and the committee handling the proceedings declined to delay hearings until a new lawyer was caught up on the case, the lawsuit says.

Among the 10 defendants named in the suit are the City of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the city’s Local Liquor Control Commission, the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection office and various current and former city officials.