The decision won’t shut Bottled Blonde down, but the city has revoked the controversial River North bar’s liquor license. The city’s business affairs department sent out a letter announcing the revocation which also came with $3,000 in fines. City officials sustained 24 out of the 25 charges levied against Bottled Blonde in the complaint filed earlier this year.
The bar is appealing the decision which will trigger another hearing process and Bottled Blonde will stay open during that appeal, a city spokeswoman confirmed. That means it’s business as usual until the next legal hurdle. Bottled Blonde is an Arizona party chain and they opened in 2015 in Chicago. Female bartenders and servers are scantily clad, and shots and domestic brews are enjoyed while DJs play music.
The first round of revocation hearings began in June but were proceeded by a batch of community meetings that took place over the spring and summer of 2016. The saga stretches out longer than that as even before Bottled Blonde opened neighbors worried about noise and traffic.
After the bar opened, residents complained to the city and police about noise, drunken and vomiting patrons, traffic, and other security issues. Bottled Blonde attorneys (even the one who was fired after a drug-related arrest) argued management listened to those concerns and reacted accordingly to better serve neighbors. Neighbors countered that Bottled Blonde fooled the city when applying for permits. Instead of running the place as a restaurant with “contemporary Italian cuisine” they ran it as a nightclub with a dance floor and rowdy patrons. The city agreed, ruling that Bottled Blonde violated its operating plan they presented to officials prior to the 2015 opening.
The only charge the city didn’t sustain was No. 22. That charge centered around an April 23 incident alleging that management failed to regularly monitor the outside of the establishment, failed to prevent litter, and failed to sweep sidewalks.
The bar received more bad press earlier this year when word spread of a racist dress code posted at the entrance that seemed to target African Americans. The bar never responded to the summer criticism, though the dress code was never seen again after the Internet outrage. It was an ugly incident but didn’t factor in the city’s decision to revoke the bar’s liquor license.
Even with the controversy, the chain’s been doing fine. Not only are Chicagoans still frequenting the bar, they just opened in Dallas. Meanwhile, residents walking out of the final revocation hearing in October at City Hall were prepared for a lengthy legal battle. The appeal will give that to them, and they should expect more hearing dates in 2018. Read the city’s letter and the charges below.