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Bottled Blonde liquor license revoked; can still serve pending appeal

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

The city revoked the liquor license for the Bottled Blonde, the controversial River North bar and restaurant, but an appeal filed by the establishment will let it continue to operate for the time being.

Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, opted to revoke the license earlier this week, according to a department spokesperson.

Since the Bottled Blonde appealed the decision, it will be allowed to stay open until the appeals process concludes. There is no timeframe yet for the appeals process.

Messages left with Nick Ftikas, the attorney representing the Bottled Blonde, were not returned Wednesday.

According to the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, “The dispute now goes before the License Appeal Commission (LAC) which can uphold all or some of the findings, or overturn the revocation order.”

However, if the Bottled Blonde disagrees with whatever the commission decides, the establishment can also appeal to the Cook County Circuit Court.

Since opening in 2015 at 504 N. Wells St., the restaurant has drawn the ire of neighbors complaining of loud music being played into the wee hours, as well as drunken patrons fighting and urinating in alleys.

City inspectors agreed with residents last year that Bottled Blonde was operating more like a nightclub than as the pizzeria it had a license for, according to records from the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The restaurant was allowed to stay open only by agreeing to clean up its act with a “revised liquor license plan of operation,” promising to put up more trash cans, keep the sidewalk clean and limit a single-file line outside to 25 people. In that agreement, city officials emphasized that alcohol sales were to be “only incidental to the food service.”

The restaurant even enlisted the services of former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to help tighten up their security plan.

But in May, city investigators determined once again that the Bottled Blonde was still running primarily as a bar, leading to the new round of disciplinary hearings.

Last month, attorneys for the city argued “all we have here” is bad behavior from the Bottled Blonde and that the business fudged the numbers to show most of their profits didn’t come from alcohol sales.

Ftikas, argued that the numbers weren’t fudged — merely clarified. Also, Ftikas said, the city’s contention that the business has diminished the quality of the neighborhood is “purely circumstantial.”