The meeting opened with Joe speaking very loudly. Apparently there was no microphone set up for this meeting. I’m not sure I’ve been to one of his meetings that didn’t have a mic. But we learned that the alderman’s opinion carries a lot of weight with the zoning board and the liquor commission. Of course, Joe is a pro at projecting his voice at public meetings. Both Mike C and Mike B are very soft-spoken men, so it was a detriment to the meeting that not everyone packed into the room could hear them.
They gave a powerpoint presentation outlining their proposed business and some highlights answered the questions before they were asked:
They’ve put up $50k of their personal investments/savings.
They’ve been in contact with Cmdr. Rottner regarding security issues
They predict 60% of their clientele to be local i.e. non-drivers and 40% to be drivers.
Their lease is for one year with the option to renew for 2 or 3, they are not leasing the second floor.
The percentage of food sales is expected to be 30-40% and the rest liquor sales.
The cuisine to be offered will be both Caribbean and American. Several chafing dishes were set up with samples of their menu offerings.
The music venue will be blues and jazz.
The target audience – 35 and older.
Advertising to be done locally.
Another disadvantage was the lack of consideration for some who were speaking pro and con to the plan and allowing responses to be heard.
One gentleman claiming to have been in the restaurant business for 30 some years declared that their kitchen area was illegal. According to Bell, it has passed city inspections. So the gentleman bounded back with restaurant lingo about exhaust and venting to which the response was ‘it’s vented but we can’t do grease cooking’. Sorry folks, no fried foods here.
Another asked what happened to the condo’s that were to be built on that corner to which Joe responded the deal fell through in the negotiation stage. Several long time neighbors expressed their concern, not at Bell and Cherrington, but the landlord who did not attend, and was not invited to attend. Sargon was labeled an irresponsible landlord, which had already been established. Another resident discussed the number of drug deals going on in the alley behind the location and the whole neighborhood.
The highlight was a senior gentleman from Eastlake Terrace who gave everyone his version of the history from the area being voted dry (Joe responded) to three people drowning in Lake Michigan because they had one too many at Biddy’s. His wife was sitting behind us and claimed it didn’t happen! So we need a historical researcher for that one.
Naturally, there are concerns. The negative history lends to instant panic buttons, as does the history of Sargon. The repeated chorus of 140 drunks leaving at 2:00AM…..the thought that Northwestern students liking blues and jazz will invade the neighborhood and pee everywhere, park in the senior from Eastlake’s spot...the list goes on and are valid concerns.
One gentleman of Caribbean descent, a business owner on Howard, spoke to the reality that this is a ‘diverse neighborhood’ but people of his culture hold their events in the suburbs. He urged the group to consider bringing the diversity word into the changes we need to help this neighborhood thrive.
Parking – is always an issue. Yet at every meeting, especially the Pivot Point, Plan B had already been figured out. Park in the CTA garage. Yet until tonight, no one had worked on a Plan B for parking to alleviate that stress point. Another neighbor inquired if there was still a garage on Howard across from the Lakeside Café and could a deal be worked out there!
A show of hands revealed 38 or 39 yeas and 37 nays. (It seemed there were more yea hands in the air to me,) Now perhaps Joe and Mike and Mike can really sit down and do some proper planning, modifications if necessary and possibly this little neighborhood could have a change in history. One woman remarked to the positive change the new Morseland has given that street. When the argument was brought up that Sheridan is a residential area, one resident reminded everyone that the Morseland is in a residential area, next to a senior residence and there have been no problems. It's all about proper management.
Island Groove, from what I could hear tonight, is open at 11AM on weekends with various breakfast items and FREE coffee. Be fair to yourself, to the neighborhood, and to these two Mike’s – stop in and meet them.
Now if all these people would get out and WALK with us on various nights, this hood would really groove!