Northlake gas station owners fight for liquor licenses

The owners of several gas stations in west suburban Northlake are asking for liquor licenses so they can pour booze for customers.

“I don’t think being able to sit down and drink there is a good idea,” said Northlake Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin.

He says the owners of several Northlake gas stations want liquor licenses to pour beer and wine for customers on premises. So this November, the question is being put on the ballot for voters.

“They were persistent so finally the City Council said, ‘well, we don’t think it’s a good idea but let’s see what the residents think and we can go from there,’” Sherwin said.


But it’s not so much about the booze as it is about video gambling machines. The problem is, Illinois gaming law requires that operators be able to pour liquor in order to get the machines.

“Because of the Corona pandemic, we don’t have a lot of business right now. It’s slowed down. So if we put the video gambling in the store, people come in,” said Anand Patel, owner of a Shell gas station in Northlake.

Already there are nine businesses in Northlake with video gaming licenses, 48 terminals, generating a little more than $100,000 a year for the city.

Just down North Avenue in neighboring Stone Park, another Shell gas station has installed booths for video gaming and serves wine or beer to customers who want it.

But Northlake's mayor worries more gambling and booze isn’t what his city needs.

“They need to go to the legislature and carve out an exception for gas stations. But then where do you stop? If gas stations can have it, can the flower shop have it? Can the nail place have it?” Sherwin said.

November’s referendum is non-binding, which means even if the voters say yes to booze at gas stations, it would still need to be passed into law by the City Council.