The plan is to offer customers a full liquor bar when Asian restaurant and sushi bar NaNa Asian Fusion opens its doors on North Oakland Avenue in October.
Owner Nick Zheng's only problem: It could cost him as much as $10,000 for the liquor license.
Zheng’s new venture at 4511 N. Oakland Ave., a few storefronts south of Three Lions Pub, is one of the many new shops, restaurants and bars that have revived the village’s business district, and many are seeking a Class B liquor license, which allows an establishment to serve hard liquor, beer and wine.
When Salvatore’s Pizza opened May 17, it was issued the village’s 14th and last $600 Class B license. State law allots municipalities a set number of Class B licenses for issuance and some reserve Class B liquor licenses based on its population, which are required to be sold for no less than $10,000.
So, if NaNa wants to open with a full bar, it would have to purchase one of Shorewood's eight reserve licenses. The $10,000 cost of the license is a one-time charge and the license can be renewed annually for $600.
It might well be Zheng’s fault, as he should have researched the issue prior to signing a lease and starting construction on the interior of his new restaurant, village officials said at a Community Development Authority meeting Friday.
"As much as we want to encourage businesses, it's not our place to take care of people's mistakes," said Trustee Jeff Hanewall.
Zheng told Patch Tuesday he plans to pay the $10,000 for the license, but said village officials told him there is a chance he could be reimbursed.
At the CDA meeting, officials discussed pocketing the $10,000, but also kicked around some ways of softening the blow to Zheng and his new sushi bar.
In the past, some villages and cities have waived the fee or provided economic development grants in the amount of the license, Village Clerk Sherry Grant said. Mimicking what other municipalities have done could help protect Shorewood from ligation, CDA member John Florsheim said.
Village Manager Chris Swartz said staff would have to work on a new policy, which could take months, before it would issue any grants.
With no policy in place for this issue, Hanewall said his knee-jerk reaction is Zheng has to play by the rules of today.
"If we could clearly justify (a grant), maybe I'd go along with it," Hanewall said.
Shorewood also has three wine-only licenses available and while it has issued all of its beer-only licenses, the Village Board has the authority to add some licenses through an ordinance.
"If we want to increase beer licenses so that businesses can combine with the wine, we can do that as part of our overall policy," Swartz said.
However, Zheng would have to exclude hard liquor from this bar, which Plaisted argued is a large part of the alcohol market nowadays.
Trustee Ellen Eckman said this is a broader issue than just NaNa's because this could adversely affect how prospective business developers and owners view Shorewood.
That point was also made by Business Improvement District Executive Director Jim Plaisted.
“We need to address this if we want to continue to bring attractive, quality restaurants here to Shorewood,” he said.
Zheng and co-owner Ka Bo Wong are the third generation of restaurant owners in their family. Their relatives have opened various types of Asian fusion restaurants in New York, California and Florida including a chain called Wild Ginger.