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Want a 9 a.m. mimosa with Sunday brunch? Chicago aldermen say ‘cheers!’

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) makes it easier for Chicago restaurants to serve the growing legion of European soccer fans. “It’s in Europe, so it’s six hours ahead. It’s morning when all of these games are going on,” Smith said.

A Chicago City Council committee has OK’d an ordinance that would let the Sunday brunch crowd start sipping those mimosas an hour earlier.
A Chicago City Council committee has OK’d an ordinance that would let the Sunday brunch crowd start sipping those mimosas an hour earlier.
Sun-Times file photo

Moved by the popularity of European soccer, Chicago aldermen agreed Thursday to let the Sunday brunch crowd start drinking an hour earlier — at 9 a.m.

Last fall, the City Council opened the door for 75 smaller Chicago supermarkets to start selling liquor at 8 a.m. on Sundays to make it easier for Bears fans to buy beer and booze for tailgating or watching games at home.

Aldermen called it a “convenience factor” for those who are working or busy and can’t do their shopping on Saturday.

The ordinance advanced Thursday by the City Council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection has a different focus. It’s aimed at the growing legion of European soccer fans who root on their favorite teams while having brunch and sipping a mimosa.

Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said she was asked to champion the change by representatives of the hospitality industry, who would like to serve the soccer crowd.

“It’s in Europe, so it’s six hours ahead. It’s morning when all of these games are going on. It’s a fine Chicago tradition to repair to an establishment and catch a game. ... It is a fact of life that some people who attend brunch would like to have a mimosa or a drink. And we’d like to legalize that practice,” Smith said.

“This is restricted to those alcoholic establishments that also serve food to be able to open a little bit earlier. I also think it’s a very pro-business matter because our restaurants would have the opportunity to basically have another turn of their tables, which I think is very, very good for business.”

Ald. Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward.
Ald. Michele Smith says early-morning soccer fans want to have a drink, too.
Sun-Times file photo

Taxi license renewals eased

In other action, the License Committee also agreed to relax the city’s rigid license renewal regulations to benefit a taxicab industry decimated by the precipitous growth of ride-hailing.

The ordinance championed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot removes a rule that prohibited owners of multiple taxicab medallions from renewing any of their licenses if even one of their medallions had been revoked in the last five years.

An operator unable to renew any licenses due to just one revocation “could be completely put out of business,” said Rupal Bapat, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

“This ordinance would eliminate that domino effect….With this change, hundreds of medallions in good standing will be able to renew in 2020 and stay in business.”

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said there’s a whole lot more that can and should be done to help medallion owners, some of whom paid “north of $200,000, if not more” for medallions now worth $25,000 to $40,000.

“Clearly, there are people whose life savings was invested in this business. They’ve suffered considerably from the changing market conditions and changing regulatory conditions,” Hopkins said.

“Anything we can do as a regulatory body to try and assist them is a good thing. It shows some compassion for people who have just had the rug pulled out from under them — who bought a medallion at the peak of the market and are now pretty much stuck with it.”