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Main Street, seen looking south from the block between Market and Mulberry streets, runs through downtown Bloomington. City officials have tried to limit liquor licenses in this section of Main.

BLOOMINGTON — Nightshop, a restaurant planned for the former Main Street Grill site in downtown Bloomington, could be open by the end of the year if the City Council OKs a liquor license later this month.

Christopher Golwitzer and Matthew Spears told the Bloomington Liquor Commission on Tuesday about their plans to offer food and entertainment at 517 N. Main St. 

“Our aim is to be a restaurant that offers a 50 percent vegetarian and vegan menu,” Golwitzer said. “The other 50 percent will be for carnivores or omnivores.

"Also we intend to host live entertainment, mostly in the form of music on a local level, regional level, national and international level.”

The owners received a unanimous recommendation for a restaurant license, which would allow for the sale of all types of alcohol by the glass for consumption on the premises, including Sundays. At least 51 percent of the sales would have to come from food to be in compliance with the license.

The commission added a condition that everyone under the age of 21 must be out of the restaurant by 10 p.m.

The restaurant would also feature an outdoor area, Spears said.

Bloomington Assistant Police Chief Ken Bays said he had some concerns about adding another liquor establishment to the downtown area. There already are seven liquor establishments in a two-block area.

“I commend their business plan and to serve food, but we have concerns that even past dinner times, you are going to have underage people trying to get in and consume alcohol,” he said. “I realize that after dinner, they want to draw people for entertainment purposes, and I understand that is their goal. But for police, it’s more of a challenge.”

Previously, the mayor and City Council have tried to limit the downtown bar scene by not increasing the number of tavern licenses in the 300 through 600 blocks of North Main Street.

“There is essentially an informal moratorium on liquor licenses that are tavern licenses on the 300, 400, 500 and 600 blocks of downtown,” Mayor Tari Renner said. “This is a restaurant license, so it is different.”

Renner warned the owners that the location has been a problem for underage drinking and raucous incidents in the past.

“If there are any issues, we will hit hard,” he said. “If there are none, we will love you.”

The council will vote on the license Nov. 27.

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow


Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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