Let there be booze!
The state granted a Prospect Heights eatery its long-sought after liquor license after the restaurateur proved a church across the street could not legally prohibit him from selling booze because the house of worship also houses a pet store.
Sunshine Co. opened late last year on Washington Avenue and immediately ran into trouble due to its location within 200 feet of the Tabernacle Free Church — too close according to state blue laws that bar bars near buildings used “exclusively” as spiritual sites.
But the new bistro scored an unlikely victory on Wednesday night by convincing authorities that the church’s corner building at Sterling Place is connected by a hallway to a contiguous storefront, which the church leases to a pet shop.
“I was curious what the hall was used for but now that I see that it does connect to the other commercial location I rule that the 200-foot rule does not apply in this situation,” said a State Liquor Authority judge during the testimony.
The license to sell hard liquor marks a huge turnaround for Sunshine Co., which pushed back its opening for months and barely managed to stay in business without serving the hard stuff, according to its owner.
“It’s such a relief,” said owner Alexander Hall, who said that he was a week away from closing up shop before the state granted him a beer and wine license in early February.
The restaurant will begin serving hard liquor and cocktails on Monday, and will launch its full cocktail menu on Thursday.
A pastor at the church said he felt the higher power in this case — the state liquor authority — made the wrong decision, but was willing to let the matter stand.
“That’s on the state; they can make the law and they can violate it. This is why the whole world is in chaos,” said German Cayetano, the associate pastor of the church. “If life ended on earth, then I would say then everything is lost, but life does not end here … I’m not going to argue it.”
Community Board 8, which did not recommend a liquor license for the restaurant, did not respond to requests for comments.Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg