UPDATE: Bottled Blonde’s attorneys on Thursday afternoon filed an appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court.
A judge on Thursday morning ruled that Bottled Blonde, the embattled River North restaurant and bar, will stay closed. Attorneys for the Arizona-based restaurant/nightclub hybrid asked the court for an emergency stay after police shut the spot down on Wednesday, revoking the establishment’s business license and announcing the action with an orange sticker affixed to the front door. Cook County judge Neil Cohen denied that request, which means Bottled Blonde will stay closed at 504 N. Wells Street.
Bottled Blonde could elect to appeal the ruling to the Illinois Appelate Court. But those proceedings could take some time, and ownership wants to keep the establishment open as they proceeded with the court. Attorney Edward Feldman argued that his client’s infractions were “not of sufficient severity for the draconian sanction of revocation.” Another Bottled Blonde attorney, Jeanne Gallucci, urged Cohen to issue a temporary stay that would keep the space open. She said it could take as long as a week for the state appellate court to grant them a stay.
“The business will be destroyed in that time,” Gallucci said.
Cohen adamantly rejected Gallucci’s argument, repeatedly saying “denied.” He added that she didn’t know how Bottled Blonde’s business would be affected. He urged her to file the needed appeal papers.
Gallucci and Feldman argued that the court should have mercy on Bottled Blonde’s employees who would be without jobs. They mentioned that ownership would lose $4 million in revenue. Cohen was not persuaded.
“I am not here to save the Bottled Blonde from its own defects, waivers, failures,” the judge said.
City attorney David Smith argued that Bottled Blonde’s plight wasn’t an isolated incident that involved a single employee, that it deserved to have its licenses revoked as the pattern of behavior showed “the conduct of the business, not a rogue employee.”
Neighbors, who have pressed the city to close down Bottled Blonde since it opened in 2015, rejoiced after Thursday morning’s hearing at the Daley Center. They hugged outside the courtroom, particularly relieved that Bottled Blonde would remained closed today; Halloween is a particularly busy day for Chicago’s bars. During the last four years, neighbors have presented videos, noise complaints, and traffic concerns to city officials in a series of hearings at City Hall.
The city’s attorneys had argued that Bottled Blonde violated its operations plan which it submitted to get the proper licenses before opening in 2015. Bottled Blonde presented itself as an Italian restaurant, but the majority of its money came from liquor sales. That showed, they said, it operated more like a nightclub. The business had a reputation as a sports bar during the day. But at night, furniture was cleared to make room for a dance floor and DJs.
Residents maintained that Bottled Blonde wasn’t in the right neighborhood. They said it would be better off on Hubbard Street rather than near condo and apartment buildings. The building’s previous tenant was SushiSamba, a Japanese restaurant.
Bottled Blonde is owned by Evening Entertainment Group, which runs 17 establishments in Arizona and Texas. The first location opened in Scottsdale, Arizona. A Dallas location opened in 2017. A Houston location is also planned, but there hasn’t been an update in about a year.