Elliot Richardson | Crain’s Chicago Business | March 15, 2018

New restaurants spur economic development and create jobs in communities across the state. They bring people into neighborhood business districts and expose patrons to nearby retailers and small businesses. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs attempting to open an establishment in Illinois face an archaic law that prohibits them from serving alcohol within 100 feet of a religious institution, school, hospital or military station.

This law stymies the growth of local economies, often in areas where new opportunities are needed most. And it paints all communities with a single brush instead of allowing local leaders to determine the restrictions that best serve their businesses and residents.

The Liquor Control Act of 1934 became law in Illinois shortly after the 18th Amendment was repealed. It prohibits the sale of alcohol within 100 feet of the institutions identified above but provides restaurants the opportunity to procure a specific exemption for their establishments. However, obtaining an exemption takes an actual act of the Illinois General Assembly.

Specifically, for a single business to receive an exemption, a bill must be drafted, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor. Most small-business owners simply don’t have the time or resources to tackle this burdensome process.

In the 84 years since this became the law of the land, only 75 businesses have been granted such an exemption.