Under Review: The Hand Family Purchase of City Beverage

Members of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission are set to review the proposed buyout of distributor City Beverage by a Tennessee Family at the commission’s monthly meeting in Chicago this afternoon.

If you recall, Anheuser-Busch announced on October 31st that they were selling their 30-percent stake in the four wholesalers that make up City Beverage (Arlington Heights, Chicago, Markham and downstate Bloomington) to the Hand Family. Also announced, on the same day, the investment firm that owns the remaining 70-percent interest in City Beverage would be buying River North Sales and Service.

The plan: roll the two into one creating the largest Bud distributor in Illinois.

Moving forward, the mega distributor will be known as Lakeshore Beverage.

photo courtesy @chicagobars

photo courtesy @chicagobars

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Bill Prohibiting A Brewer From Owning A Distributor Passes IL Senate, Headed To Gov’s Desk

Legislation that would make it illegal for a brewer to hold an ownership interest in an Illinois distributor cleared the state Senate Tuesday on a unanimous, 52-0 vote. The bill previously passed the House and now goes to the governor for his signature.ilcapitol

Once signed into law, the bill will effectively end Anheuser-Busch’s minority ownership interest in, but majority control of, Illinois distributor City Beverage. Continue reading

Live-Blogging The Legislature (April 19th)

Today is the deadline to pass bills out of the Illinois House. State Representative Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) pledged HB 2606 would be called for a vote by the 19th, so today is the day.

For those of you just joining us, the legislation would prohibit a brewer from owning a distributor in Illinois. This bill, even though it hasn’t been voted on by either chamber, has already caused Anheuser-Busch to agree to sell its ownership interest in wholesaler City Beverage by 2015 – as laid out in the proposed legislation.

The concession comes five months after the Illinois liquor Control Commission voted to allow AB to retain its 30-percent ownership interest in City Beverage, ending a years long dispute over whether the Illinois Liquor Control Act permits a brewer to own a distributor. Continue reading

The Restrictive, The Odd, The Goofy; A Look At Local Liquor Laws In Illinois

Did you know that one village in southern Illinois only allows BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) if it’s brought to a house party? Or that one suburban Chicago village prohibits bottle service? And then there’s the small village well northwest of Chicago that only allows alcohol to be served when, “complete meals are served at tables.”

Those local liquor ordinances and hundreds of others were revealed recently when the Illinois Liquor Control Commission posted a series of surveys online. The surveys asked questions about what kind of liquor sales were allowed, the hours of sales, aged related ordinances and miscellaneous laws and restrictions.

80-percent of the 1,200 cities, counties, towns and villages that were sent surveys responded and there responses were, shall we say, enlightening.

The first interesting tidbit we gleamed from the surveys; out of all the respondents over 100 of them are dry – meaning no booze is sold. Even more interesting is that some communities allow alcohol to be sold but don’t have anyone selling it or, in the case of a convenience store in Joppa, they have a liquor license but don’t stock liquor.


photo courtesy Ambig

For you entrepreneurs interested in setting up shop with no competition for alcohol sales look no further than Hartsburg, Bardolph, Bently, Mason, Standard City or Tower Lakes.

If you like to do your drinking in public you’ll have to cozy up to the mayor of Chester to do so. They allow public consumption but only with, “special permission from the mayor.” Now, we’re sure this means for special events but we can’t help but wonder if anyone has ever called the mayor’s office requesting special dispensation to take a road sodie on his way to the barbershop.

Red Bud Sign FinalIn the same vein, you’re allowed to BYOB to parks in Red Bud but in Okawville you can bring your own “only to home parties.” We’re sure the host is appreciative.

Enough of what you can do: how about what you can’t?

If you like a beer or two with your NFL football and tend to procrastinate, the cities of Carmi or Freeport may not be for you. They don’t allow alcohol sales on Sundays.

Christian County doesn’t allow off-premise sales for consumption. Neither does Inverness. You can buy beer and liquor to take home in Morton Grove but be sure to smile when you do, because every off-premise sale is required to be videotaped.

Downers Grove forbids bottle service. Sorry, Bobby.

Elmwood Park prohibits “fashion shows” at their drinking establishments. (Note: Having been to a couple bars where “fashion show” is not-so-subtle code for “strippers,” this kinda makes sense.)

And Saint Peter (yes, it’s a town) says live entertainment is a no-no.

You can’t buy booze when you fill up your gas tank in the city of Warrenville. Same goes for Wheeling. Oh, and they don’t allow drive-thru liquor stores either.

photo courtesy the Daily Herald

photo courtesy the Daily Herald

If a bowl of stale pretzels is all you need to go with your beer, then perhaps steer clear of Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palos Heights, Riverside and Winnetka where bars and taverns are not allowed. Liquor stores are also off-limits in Winnetka.

And in Wilmette and Third Lake alcohol can only be served with food, with Third Lake stipulating that, “alcohol may be served when complete meals are served at tables.” Sorry, tapas lovers, you’re out of luck in Third Lake.

If you want your brewskis straight from the cooler, then you may have to hunt around in Danvers, where a special permit is required to sell cold beer.

Now that you know the odds and ends of Illinois’ odder local liquor laws, see where these cities, counties, towns and villages are on our map below.

Anheuser-Busch Agrees To Relinquish Ownership Interest In IL Distributor City Beverage

abdiThe Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, the engine driving legislation to clear up Illinois’ 3-tier system of alcoholic beverage distribution, says the proposal currently before the Illinois House has an unencumbered path to passage.

This is significant because the legislation, if it becomes law, would require Anheuser-Busch InBev to divest its minority interest in Illinois distributor City Beverage.

The bill in question specifically prohibits a brewer from owning a distributor.

AB InBev has fought for years to retain its ownership interest in City Beverage, which is held through a wholly owned subsidiary, and ultimately won a drawn out battle before the Illinois Liquor Control Commission last fall. The Commission noted, in its decision, that the Illinois Liquor Control Act was too vague in terms of who can and who cannot own a distributor in Illinois and challenged the Illinois legislature to address the issue directly.

HB 2606 is in response to that challenge. Continue reading