Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation allowing Pete’s Fresh Market to continue selling beer, wine and spirits at its new West Side store, though a church next door to the grocery had objected to liquor sales there and urged him to veto the measure.
Quinn spokeswoman Katie Hickey said Quinn decided it’s “in the community’s best interest to sign the bill.”
Pete’s — which has made tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), a top Quinn supporter — started selling liquor at its store at 2333 W. Madison in June under a “contingent” license granted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. The license required Pete’s to get an exemption from an Illinois law that bans liquor sales within 100 feet of churches or schools — or lose its city liquor license.
Burke’s brother, state Rep. Daniel Burke, D-Chicago, helped push that exemption through the Legislature, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in July.
That prompted members of the Greater Bethlehem Healing Temple church to urge Quinn to use his veto power to stop liquor sales at the West Side Pete’s.
“This facility will be within 75 feet of our church,” Greater Bethlehem Bishop Chester Hudson wrote to Quinn. “We have received calls from local politicians and lobbyists on their behalf. Our response has been the same: NO.”
Quinn signed the bill exempting Pete’s and several other establishments from the 100-foot law on Aug. 26.
Hickey said Quinn aides “met with church officials and had spoken with representatives from the Fresh Market to hear their concerns. Conversations were amicable, and both sides understood the economic opportunity for the community.”
Attempts to reach Hudson and Pete’s owner James Dremonas were unsuccessful.
Since September 2012, Pete’s and another Dremonas company have contributed a total of $56,750 to campaign committees controlled by Ald. Burke — including a $1,500 contribution on Sept. 2, days after Quinn signed the legislation, records show.
Besides its new West Side location, Pete’s has a cluster of stores on the Southwest Side in Ald. Burke’s ward and Rep. Burke’s legislative district.
Quinn and the alderman are longtime friends, and the alderman’s campaign committees helped bankroll the governor’s 2010 election campaign, with more than $300,000 in loans and contributions. Burke committees have contributed $50,000 to Quinn since Dec. 31.