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What Is the City of Chicago Liquor License Moratorium?


Many of our clients initially contact us asking us to check if their property is subject to a moratorium. What the client really is asking is whether their property is located in a “moratorium district.” This term generally refers to certain sections of the city which have imposed a moratorium on all new tavern or liquor store licenses.

The Chicago City Ordinance restricts the issuance of new liquor licenses in various locations throughout the City. Determining whether your business, or proposed business, lies within a moratorium district seems straightforward, while in actuality it is anything but simple. The moratorium classifications can be complicated as certain moratoriums affect different sections of the City in different ways. Certain areas of the city do not allow any new liquor licenses to be issued, including both packaged good licenses and tavern licenses. Liquor licenses for restaurants are generally not subject to the moratorium restrictions.

The moratorium ordinances also greatly restrict the transfer of existing tavern and packaged goods licenses. There are a few exceptions to this rule (for example transfers are allowed from a parent to their children); however, if you do not fall into one of these limited exceptions, the only way that a transfer will be allowed to proceed is if the alderman amends the moratorium statute to permit the transfer.

The City of Chicago further restricts the issuance of any new liquor licenses to a business which is located within 100 feet of any church, library, hospital, or nursing home. In addition, generally no new tavern licenses will be issued to any location that is within 400 feet of an existing business which operates under a tavern license.

If your business falls within a moratorium district there are many complications in obtaining or transferring a liquor license which are not insurmountable, but certainly need to be addressed as soon as possible. It is important that you contact a qualified Chicago liquor license attorney to walk you through the process and determine what restrictions, such as a moratorium ordinance, may impede you obtaining the liquor license you need to run your business. The experienced liquor license attorneys at Hays Firm LLC are available to assist you in the process of determining whether your business lies within a moratorium ordinance and guide you throughout the entire application process. Please feel free to contact us anytime with your questions.