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Bloomington Liquor Commission Approves Licenses For 3 New Restaurants

Hooters exterior
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The Bloomington Liquor Commission voted 2 to 1 to approve a tavern liquor license request for JP's Wheel & Ale House, in the former Hooters location on Hershey Road.

The Bloomington Liquor Commission approved three new liquor licenses Tuesday, including a tavern license for a restaurant going into the former Hooters location on Hershey Road.

Gary Biddle also owns and operates nearby Dr. McKay’s, which has its own restaurant liquor license. Biddle said his newest venture, JP’s Wheel & Ale House, needs a tavern liquor license, which means food does not have to be the primary source of income.

“Our pricing schedule, if you come in and have two beers, and you have a chicken dinner, it’s going to be the same amount of money,” Biddle said. “So we’re worried if we don’t go for the tavern license that we’re going to be so close there that we don’t want to have to come back and say, ‘Well, we’re going to need a tavern license now.’”

Bloomington Liquor Commission Member Jim Jordan was the sole no vote against the license. He said his concern lies with the fact that a tavern license limits patrons to age 21 and over, and does not hold the establishment accountable for not turning into strictly a bar and gaming parlor.

Biddle said he intends to apply for a video gaming license should the city choose to lift its moratorium. Dr. McKay’s is one of the highest video gaming revenue earning establishments in Bloomington-Normal outside of truck stops.

Commission member Jordan asked Biddle to reapply for a restaurant liquor license, in which food must be at least 51% of sales. Biddle said switching his application and going through the approval process from the beginning again would cost him thousands of dollars in lost revenue due to stalling the business timeline.

Biddle said if business is good, he plans to open JP's at 6 a.m. and serve breakfast.

The tavern liquor license now goes to a vote in front of the Bloomington City Council on Sept. 9, along with two other approved liquor license requests.

Brass Pig Smoke and Ale House

Tyler Holloway owns Fat Jack’s Bar and Club. The Bloomington Liquor Commission approved the restaurant liquor license request for Holloway’s new venture, Brass Pig Smoke and Ale House, which will occupy the old Pub America space at 602 N. Main St. in downtown.

“It’s going to be a full-on smokehouse where we smoke not only meats, but vegetables,” Holloway said. “We want to have a nice catering menu as well as an in-house menu. Of course we are applying for a liquor license, so we will have a bar in there.”

Holloway said Brass Pig Smoke and Ale House has space for video gaming terminals, but that will be filled with seating pending action by the city council.


Bloomington could see a new restaurant on its southeast side. The liquor commission also approved owner Kelly Thoennes’ restaurant liquor license request. She plans to open Breathe, a smaller fine dining space at 1804 S. Hershey Road, next to Lucky 7’s.

A restaurant liquor license in Bloomington allows for all types of alcohol to be sold for consumption on the premises, seven days a week.

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