ST. CHARLES – A liquor store’s request to open a drive-thru site received split reaction Monday from the St. Charles Liquor Control Commission.
“I think we’re sending the wrong message to the city of St. Charles if we’re allowing a drive-up window in our community,” 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis said.
Lundeen Liquors is seeking approval to use 1315 W. Main St., St. Charles, as a store with a drive-up window. David and Julie Lundeen said they have operated a liquor store with a drive-thru lane for nine years in Sycamore.
A liquor store having a pick-up window is no different than a fast-food restaurant or pharmacy having a drive-thru lane, Julie Lundeen said. Customers want convenience, she said.
“It is simply the nature of our society of how we want to shop,” she said, adding that drive-thru customers include the elderly, the disabled and mothers with children in car seats.
“It is different,” she said. “It’s a different product.”
Commission member Chuck Amenta asked how the store would make sure alcohol wasn’t sold to motorists already intoxicated.
With the pick-up window, Julie Lundeen said, the employees are even closer to the customers.
They can judge customers’ level of intoxication by their appearance, speech and smell, she said.
“It’s pretty obvious when someone is intoxicated beyond [seeing how they are] walking,” Julie Lundeen said.
Amenta supported the request while Lewis and 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner did not.
Mayor Ray Rogina, who also favored the request, said he will tell the St. Charles City Council how the commission voted.
The commission did, however, reach consensus on another topic: Rogina’s proposal for late-night permits for liquor licenses. Under his proposal, the city would issue liquor licenses requiring establishments to close at midnight but would also offer 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. closing permits for a fee. The permits would be reviewed annually, he said.
The commission directed staff to develop criteria outlining how the City Council could reduce a permit from its existing closing time to an earlier hour.