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Bottled Blonde Attorney Compares River North Bro Haven To Next & Schwa

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Residents, city officials, police and Bottled Blonde management again faced off at a City Hall meeting

Bottled Blonde
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Residents and city officials still unhappy with noise, traffic and fights coming from Bottled Blonde suggested the River North spot discontinue bottle service. That's after a Friday afternoon community meeting at City Hall where Chicago police said much of the drunken exploits at the bro haven could be traced to the over-serving of alcohol.

About 35 people filled the meeting room, with residents once more sharing complaints in a saga that started last year. At the March meeting, city Deputy Commissioner Barbara Gressel listened to suggestions before telling Bottled Blonde management to revise their security plan and to respect the operating plan. The plan is the agreement owners make with the city, describing how they plan on running their business. Even before opening in November in the former SushiSamba Rio space, residents mounted a campaign to have Bottled Blonde listen to their concerns.

There's much contention between nearby residents and Bottled Blonde management over the plan, as residents continue to say Bottled Blonde agreed to be a restaurant, which wouldn't need to stay open past midnight and play loud music. For example, this specific plan for Bottled Blonde restricts the deployment of DJs, something Bottled Blonde has ignored. Residents presented a video at the meeting showing Bottled Blonde staff removing tables to make room for a night club. That's despite Gressel at the previous meeting telling them to stop that practice.

Gressel suggested to make amendments in the operating plan and re-submitting them to the city. That's something Bottled Blonde attorney Thomas Raines said they would look into. "It doesn't look like a restaurant at night," Gressel said.

That led other residents to question the need for bottle service, the practice of offering customers a table reservation in exchange for purchasing a bottle of liquor at an inflated price. This is where Raines compared the River North spot to fine-dining stalwarts Next and Schwa, specifically mentioning them by name. Raines pointed to the prices at those restaurants, and said residents and the city shouldn't be so quick to define what makes a restaurant.

"I am not suggesting it's a fine-dining restaurant," Raines said of Bottled Blonde, despite the presence of the Double "B" Burger on the space's menu. "But the definition of a restaurant is quite broad."

Gressel quickly shot back that she's not hearing residents complaining about Next or Schwa, and that the comparison wasn't a good one. Besides considering discontinuing bottle service, Gressel is concerned what summer will bring with open windows and more patrons. She's asking the Bottled Blonde to keep their garage-like windows rolled up to keep sound inside their space.

Other residents complained about fights and drug use in a nearby alley. However, some admitted that the restaurant have made improvements, but they're still not enough to make a major difference.

While residents complained that they're entitled to a certain quality of life, as some have lived in the area for decades, Bottled Blonde management gives off an aura of victimhood. The Arizona import is the new kid on the block, and is looking around at other establishments around the city, wondering if they're given the same scrutiny.

Another meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 15.

Bottled Blonde

504 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (480) 970-1112 Visit Website