Lake Forest officials approve whiskey bar, bistro
Updated: February 26, 2013 8:55PM
LAKE FOREST — It may be time to roll out the barrel — the whiskey barrel — now that the Lake Forest City Council on Monday granted special use permits for 9 Fifty Whiskey Bar and Westwood Bistro.
The venues may be open as early as August, officials said.
The full council voted quickly and unanimously after city officials gave a presentation on the project. Acting Mayor Don Schoenheider sought audience comment before calling for a vote, but no one rose to speak in the sparsely-filled City Council Chamber.
Monday night’s public silence contrasted with earlier Plan Commission meetings, one in December and another in January, where several residents spoke against the plan to allow for 9 Fifty Whiskey Bar, an adult-only restaurant and bar overlooking Western Avenue in the shuttered King Maa spot, and Westwood Bistro, a full-service family restaurant with bar and outdoor patio in the former Burger King site.
The Plan Commission unanimously recommended the City Council approve the permit requests made by Jeff Schnell, owner of Westwood Square LLC, at 950 N. Western Ave., on behalf of Lake Forest Restaurant Group, Inc. Schnell owns the Lake Forest Restaurant Group with Ted Boufis, who operates Grille No. 43 in Lake Bluff.
The City Council agreed to several conditions of approval suggested by the Plan Commission for the overall Westwood Square complex and for the two proposed establishments. These include closing the outdoor patio at the bistro, and closing sliding windows on the front façade of the bar on Western Avenue no later than 10 p.m. The goal is to keep conditions consistent with other nearby restaurants and bars.
Additional conditions address lighting, requiring no spillover into the adjacent residential area, and noise control, specifying that no amplified sound will be permitted at any time on the patio or outside the restaurant.
Before voting, First Ward Alderman Kent Novit said he wanted to ensure that there would be no people spillover from the bar to the patio.
“If they do shut down the patio at 10 p.m. for everyone, I want to be sure they commit to that,” Novit said.
Second Ward Alderman David Moore said he looks forward to the opening of the new establishments.
“I think a lot of concerns have been addressed,” he said, adding that the result is better than “not having anything there.”
The plan next requires approval by the Building Review Board, possibly on March 6, and approval by the City Council of the two liquor license requests. The City Council meets on March 4 and 18.
After the vote, Boufis said once final approvals are received, construction should start by late March or early April on the two establishments with a planned opening of late August or early September.