Liquor License Process

In the past few months our office has received applications for several new liquor licenses.  We believe in substantial community input in the licensing process, and have realized that the process is not well understood.  Here is an overview of the process.
  • The three types of liquor licenses commonly sought in in the 43rd Ward are:
    • Taverns: bars, nightclubs, taverns, pubs, and lounges
    • Consumption on Premises – Incidental Activity: restaurants, hotels, banquet halls, theaters and bowling alleys
    • Packaged Goods: grocery stores, convenience stores, and liquor stores
  • An applicant must submit a completed application for a liquor license to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and pay an  application fee.
  • Within five days of receiving a complete and paid application for a liquor license, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection must notify by mail all registered voters living within 250 feet of the applicant’s address.
  • If you receive a notice, you have 40 days from the date of the application to send a formal objection to:
    Local Liquor Commissioner
    Dept. of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
    Greg Steadman,
    121 N. LaSalle St, Rm 805
    Chicago, Il 60602   


  • The Liquor Commissioner has 45-90 days to review an application and any objections to it, including whether the issuance of this license would create a “deleterious impact” on the health, safety or welfare of the community which means:
    • adversely affects nearby property values
    • results in an increase of violations of law
    • substantially increases noise, litter, or traffic congestion
  • If the Liquor Commissioner rejects the application on the basis of a deleterious impact, then the applicant has 20 days to submit a proposed “plan of operation” detailing the steps the applicant will take to mitigate any deleterious impact the issuance of the license may cause (e.g., restrictions on hours of operation, display of signs, trash pickup, security).  There are examples of such plans of operation on the City’s website.
  • If the Liquor Commissioner determines that the applicant’s plan is reasonable, then the license may be granted conditioned on compliance with the plan of operation.
  • While there is no mechanism in the law for a public hearing on a plan of operation, the Liquor Commissioner can take into account the input he receives from the public in crafting or approving a proposed plan of operation. Rules 9, 10, and 11 of the Liquor Commission’s Rules gives you important details of how the process works.
  • Our office wants to hear your concerns so we can represent your views and have input. To ensure community input in a liquor license decision, we often seek voluntary agreements with the applicant. These can take the form of letters to the community or binding agreements with community associations which can be independent of a plan of operation or can help create one.
  • But you must also send your objection in writing to the Liquor Commissioner. This is the only valid way for the community to object to a liquor license application.
  • If a plan of operation is not approved, then the Liquor Commissioner may formally deny the application, and the applicant can appeal within 20 days to the License Appeal Commission. If the applicant appeals and wins, the License Appeal Commission can approve the liquor license without any plan of operation. If the applicant loses, it may appeal the case to the courts.
  • More detailed information on liquor licenses can be found at the Dept. of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection’s website.


Additional Information

Click here for the rules for filing an appeal

Click here for the rules regarding the liquor commissioner’s ability to reject an application.

Click here for more information on how to make a nuisance claim

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