On Wednesday, Alderman Scott Waguespack and the Bucktown Community Organization held a public meeting with Cesar Castellanos, owner of a proposed new bar/restaurant called Cesar’s Sinful Margaritas that would be taking over the former Dairy Queen space on Damen. Castellanos is also currently the owner of the two Cesar’s Killer Margaritas locations on Clark and Broadway.
According to the Chicago Pipeline, over 45 residents showed up to the meeting to express concerns over “hammered 20-somethings,” “public intoxication,” “excessive noise” “public safety,” and the presence of Cesar’s Margaritas “adding to an already drunken population.” In fact, they drove Castellanos to state, "I feel like [you're all treating me like] a criminal.”
Although Cesar's has applied for a restaurant license, not a tavern license, (meaning it will close by midnight, have no roof deck, live music or outdoor speakers) those in attendance still did not appreciate the connotations a place like this may bring to the neighborhood and requested Castellanos focus his marketing on the food rather than the drinks, which he seemed to be open to.
Strangely, there is a lot more drama surrounding this opening than just a few angry neighbors. A few months ago when the permit went up in the window of the former Dairy Queen, it was under the name of Cesar's on Damen. Many assumed it was a third location of the already established Cesar's, but soon after the restaurant posted a message on their Facebook page vehemently denying any relation, and stated they “are currently looking at legal remediation to halt any further Copyright Trademark Infringement. (In all caps) Again we are not opening any additional locations, we apologize for the confusion?”
To confirm, Eater reached out to one of the current Cesar's locations and their message remained consistent with their Facebook post. Soon after, the permits were removed from the window until the place re-emerged as the newly named Cesar’s Sinful Margaritas a few weeks later.
It is unclear as to why the restaurant denied any relationship to the new location, and Eater could not reach Castellanos for comment. Did they realize they would face a tough neighborhood crowd and wanted to change their image? It seems likely that the name will change again down the line given that Cesar’s Sinful Margaritas does not appease the community’s desire for a more food-focused rather than alcohol-focused establishment. Castellanos did say during the meeting that the name was tentative.
Cesar’s is still awaiting approval of its liquor license, and neighbors within 500 feet still have the opportunity to send letters to the alderman in protest. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.
· Homeowners Give Chilly Welcome to Cesar's Margaritas [Chicago Pipeline]
· Cesar's Killer Margaritas [Facebook]
Cesar's on Broadway [Photo: Planet 99]