Sunday, June 23, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The strip mall at 400 S. Lake St. in Maywood, where Tina Wilson sought to open Tina’s Gaming Cafe. She wanted to open another location at 705 S. 5th Ave. The Maywood Liquor Commissioner, however, voted against the proposed establishments. | LoopNet
During a Maywood Liquor Commission meeting on June 20, roughly a dozen residents, including some commissioners, spoke out against two more proposed gaming establishments seeking to acquire a Class M liquor license in order to operate in the village.
Although the commission voted both proposals down — making it highly unlikely that the Maywood Board of Trustees, which has the final say-so on the matter, will approve the licenses — vocal opponents of the establishments are calling for the village to implement tougher policies in order to stem the tide of applicants.
The latest applicant, Tina Wilson, the wife of former Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning linebacker Otis Wilson, appeared before the commission last week seeking to obtain Class M liquor licenses required to open two Tina’s Gaming Cafes in Maywood — one at 400 Lake St., a storefront retail space just behind Maywood Fine Arts, and another at 705 S. 5th Ave.
Wilson said that she and her husband have longstanding relationships in Maywood. Wilson said her husband sat on the board of Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action Inc., a nonprofit based in Maywood, and that she often visits Maywood in her job as an employee for the Cook County Department of Public Health.
“Part of my job entails me being inside gaming cafes often,” Tina Wilson said. “There’s a misconception that gaming cafes breed crime, drunkenness and things of that nature. In fact, the demographics are middle-aged women [seeking an] atmosphere that is relaxing. In turn, it does bring revenue to the village.”
Many of the residents who spoke out against the proposed gaming establishments presented a different scenario. They honed in on the 400 Lake St. proposal, which they said would only worsen the quality of life in an area of the village that is already a cauldron of hazard.
The corner attracts a steady stream of young people, but is also a hangout for loiterers who frequent the liquor store adjacent MFA’s main building at 25 N. 5th Ave. and that is across the street from the nonprofit’s Stairway of the Stars dance studio at 20 N. 5th Ave.
Tina Wilson wanted to open a Tina’s Gaming Cafe at 705 S. 5th Ave. | Cityfeet.com
Lois Baumann, the co-founder of Maywood Fine Arts, said that her nonprofit organization services roughly 1,000 children a week — 70 percent of whom come from outside of Maywood.
“My major problem for 50 years has been the liquor problem,” Baumann said. “I clean up liquor every morning all along Lake Street and 5th Avenue.”
Veronica Ojeda, an MFA parent, said that another MFA parent was assaulted roughly two years ago on 4th and Lake St. while dropping their child off. She cited another instance that involved an intoxicated man who had fallen over while trying to cross a street in the area.
“We need establishments that promote growth in this community, not ones that instigate this type of behavior,” Ojeda said.
Wayne Beals, a Maywood resident and among the most vocal opponents of gaming bistros locating in the village, recommended that the village suspend the process of issuing Class M liquor licenses altogether.
“The voices of Maywood residents are telling the folks that got elected on the board that they don’t want to see this,” Beals said.
In 2016, Beals helped organize an online petition in which roughly 100 residents expressed their opposition to another video gambling establishment — Lucky Brew LLC — that unsuccessfully attempted to open up in the same Lake Street minimart where Tina’s Gaming Café would have been located. The petition has since garnered nearly 200 signatures.
Lucky Brew’s proposal came months after the village board voted 4 to 3 to approve a Class M license for Lacey’s Place, a proposed video gambling bistro that opened at 611 W. Roosevelt Rd. in 2017.
During the Nov. 8, 2016 election, Maywood voters elected to ban Class M licenses 56 percent to 44 percent in a non-binding advisory referendum. In December 2016, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted to amend a section of the village code to prohibit the issuance of any new Class M liquor licenses.
The board, however, lifted that blanket ban in September 2018, when it voted in favor of granting a Class M to Lucky Bernie’s — a deli that would also feature beer, wine and video gambling.
Lucky Bernie’s, which has yet to open, would be located inside of the former Subway in the strip mall at 608-22 S. 5th Ave., and would be just the second video gaming bistro to operate in Maywood.
On June 4, the owner of Maywood Mart Care, a gas station and convenience store at 1701 Harrison St., went before the village board requesting the ability to operate gaming terminals and to sell liquor within a room inside of his establishment. Most board members vigorously pushed back against the idea.
The Tina’s Gaming Café proposed for 705 S. 5th Ave. is less than a block north of where Lucky Bernie’s would be located.
“We haven’t had a great track record with keeping our community safe,” said Commissioner Keith Moore. “So it’s concerning to us and our residents about how many [gaming bistros] we allow here.”
“Fifth Avenue is supposed to be our downtown,” said Commissioner Steve Smiley. “Not little Vegas.”
“I wish we could get past the misconception that it breeds crime and nefarious activity,” said Tina Wilson.
Smiley and Moore, along with Commissioner Mary Larry and Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who chairs the liquor commission, voted against both of Wilson’s license requests. Commissioner Leah Walker voted in favor of both license requests. Commissioner Rolando Villegas was absent. VFP
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