Frustrated neighbors living near Bottled Blonde today appeared once more at City Hall, wanting city officials to pop-out like a genie out of a bottle to grant them their wish to shut down the embattled River North establishment. Today's was the fifth and final community meeting to discuss noise, traffic and safety concerns.
Barbara Gressel, the city deputy commissioner who oversaw all five meetings, said she's determined the meetings were unsuccessful. That means residents and Bottled Blonde management weren't able to properly alleviate the problems. The matter now gets passed to the city's law department which will determine if the city will conduct a trial. A trial would rule if any disciplinary actions (fines, license adjustments, etc.) are needed.
The gridlock between neighbors and the Bottled Blonde continued Wednesday morning. Residents believe Bottled Blonde has not acted in good faith. They feel Bottled Blonde sold itself to the community as a restaurant to gain the property city approvals, but instead they're operating as a night club, ignoring the plan of operation they agreed to with the city.
Bottled Blonde's brass countered and pointed to improvements, including the elimination of valet parking. However, a resident delivered a sick burn when he said the improvements weren't good enough. Not even the taste of Bottled Blonde's pizza recipe has been improved, he said.
Bottled Blonde attorney Thomas Raines described the residents concerns as a vocal minority, saying his clients have a right to operate a business, especially in River North, which isn't necessarily known as a quiet community. Some residents complained about how the establishment operated, from a lack of security, to even allowing some female customers to cut lines for admittance. Raines took issue with residents complaining about dancing, almost evoking "Footloose": "You may not like it, but you're allowed to have it," he said.
Things got a bit chippy later in the meeting, as Raines questioned the credibility of some of the evidence the residents submitted. Video captured fights, urination on the sidewalks and others bouts of mischief. Raines said he wondered if some of the people in the video were even Bottled Blonde customers. Resident David Shiba, who produced the videos, stood behind them: "I would never do this to [you]," Shiba said.