Valet service at Chicago bars could become a convention of the past if officials decide to implement a proposed ordinance that would phase out the service. The ordinance, introduced Thursday by Ald. (42nd Ward) Brendan Reilly, is predicated on the idea that valet parking services at bars makes it easy for patrons to drink and drive.
Reilly, whose ward includes bar-heavy River North, told the Tribune that valet service not only enables, but actually encourages bar and nightclub customers, to drive to and from venues that offer booze but no food. River North has experience in this area: residents who lived near the infamous Bottled Blonde, the now-shuttered nightclub at the center of a five-year local saga, listed valet parking among a litany of complaints about the bar’s noise, traffic, flashing lights, lax security, and more. The bar eventually ended valet service as it tried to avoid discipline from City Hall.
The proposal comes nearly four months after the city instated a midnight cutoff on alcohol sales at liquor stores — a move described as an attempt to curb crime by preventing loitering outside these retailers. Previously, Chicago’s liquor laws were among the most liberal in the country, allowing stores to sell until 2 a.m. Bars and clubs were not impacted by the change.
The next step for the valet ordinance will be a meeting by the city’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection where committee members and concerned citizens will discuss the proposal before bringing it to the council for a vote.
The Tribune’s restaurant critics devour pasta, pozole, and chicken sandwiches
- Co-critic Louisa Chu bestows two-and-a-half stars on Hermosa, chef Ethan Lim’s wildly popular sandwich shop on Armitage Avenue known for its near-legendary Cambodian fried chicken sandwich and family dinner that has become the toughest reservation in town (the earliest available is next summer).
- Chu’s co-critic, Nick Kindelsperger, also gave two-and-a-half stars to Alla Vita, the casual new Italian restaurant from Boka Restaurant Group’s executive chef Lee Wolen.
- Kindelsperger briefly puts away his critic hat to explore the menu and culinary roots of Pozoleria El Mexicano, a restaurant in Belmont Cragin that features several hard-to-find regional pozoles.