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Commission divided on proposed St. Charles drive-thru grocery

ST. CHARLES – A proposed drive-thru grocery store heads to a city committee next month with mixed support.

The St. Charles Liquor Control Commission on Tuesday recommended creation of an ordinance that would allow the store, planned for 2071 Route 38, to have drive-thru beer and wine sales.

Commission members voted 3-2 in favor of the recommendation at its regular meeting, with 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner and 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis voting no.

Payleitner and Lewis said some of the residents in their wards were not supportive of drive-thru alcohol sales. They compared the grocery store plan to a proposed drive-thru for the Lundeen’s Liquor express location, 1315 W. Main St., which they opposed in October.

“You basically want a drive-thru liquor store,” Lewis said to Peter Bogle, the local businessman who founded the LLC group behind the grocery store.

The grocery store proposal differs from Lundeen’s in that 50 percent of sales would be food and the other 50 percent would be beer and wine, Bogle said.

He added that drive-thru groceries have had success in other states such as Ohio.

“I feel really strongly that as a 20-year resident of St. Charles that we want to be on the front end of new and innovative business models,” Bogle said after the meeting.

The store would offer a basic selection of dairy products, dry goods, beer, wine, water and juices, Bogle said. He also is in talks with local restaurants to have some of their food available to purchase as takeout specials on various days of the week.

The store would operate out of the former Quick Lube location next to the Merlin auto shop to allow for an easy entrance and exit near the Randall Road-Route 38 intersection, Bogle said. Identification will be checked during any alcohol sale. The store plans to focus on beer and wine and not offer hard liquor at this time.

Lewis pressed Bogle on whether he still would proceed with the store if it is denied a liquor license. Bogle said the alcohol sales would be a key part in recouping the investment to start the store, which would require the installation of custom-made coolers.

Ray Rogina, St. Charles mayor and liquor commissioner, said residents are eager to see empty storefronts filled around the city, especially in the area of Randall Road and Route 38. He appreciated Bogle’s offer to be flexible with store hours and change closing times if needed.

The proposal for the store will next go before the City’s Government Operations Committee on March 3, Rogina said.

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