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City Council Votes 5-4 Against Park Pantry Liquor License

Vacant Bloomington business storefront
Eric Stock
The former West Side Food and Beverage, 906 S. Morris Ave., in Bloomington would have been the site of Park Pantry if the city had OKed the owner's request for a liquor license.

A group of Bloomington residents is applauding the city council for listening to concerns about allowing liquor sales in their west Bloomington neighborhood.

The city council voted 5-4 Monday to deny Park Pantry’s request to sell alcohol.

Surena Fish was one of a group of residents that spoke out against it from the start. She said even though the proposal passed the Liquor Commission twice, she didn’t feel discouraged.

“I think they were looking at it very, very closely, because no one wants to turn down any business,” she said. “But I think as we went through the journey, things kept popping up.”

Fish mentioned that Park Pantry’s initial proposal didn’t include outdoor seating, and that there was never a clear answer on how much liquor the store would carry.

Chiko Russo was also part of that group of Miller Park neighbors. He said all of their hard work paid off.

“Our due diligence, working the neighborhood, talking to people, and bringing our issues as a neighborhood whole, unified to the city council, it worked in our favor,” Russo said. “They heard our pleas and it didn’t fall upon deaf ears. It’s government working the way it should.”

He said he’s disappointed that the council’s vote means the owner will not open the store, but “I’m pretty sure that building is not going to stay empty very long. Somebody is going to come in, they’re going to see the needs of the neighborhood, they’re going to answer them, and we’re going to be fine.”

The business owner previously said he could not open Park Pantry without a liquor license.

Russo and his neighbors said when the building’s former tenant West Side Food and Beverage was still in business and selling liquor, crime in the area went up.

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