Village Board To Consider 3 Liquor Licenses, One Not Without Controversy

Ash Seif, Golden Quick Mart, Dorelle Curtis, liquor license
Mr. Ash Seif, right, owner of the Golden Quick Mart on Illinois Street, with one of his employees, Park Forest resident Dorelle Curtis. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Park Forest Village Board will consider three liquor licenses at Monday’s meeting. One of them has raised concerns, and support, from residents.

Two of the licenses are for upcoming businesses, and one is for an existing business. The first, to be located at 2560 Western Avenue, will be Ken’s Liquor, formerly Stop N Shop. The second license up for consideration is for PF Foods, to be located at 120 South Orchard Drive, the former location of Country Squire Foods. The third proposed license is for Golden Quick Mart, located at 313 Illinois Street. Mr. Ash Seif is the business owner at the Illinois Street store.

The Golden Quick Mart’s license application met with strong disapproval from residents who attended Village Board meetings on June 26 and that of July 10. Mr. Mick said that between residents who spoke before the Village Board and those who emailed him, he had heard from approximately 30 people who opposed to the liquor license. However, the application garnered many times that number in support of the venture, this from people who emailed the Village Manager and signed a petition Mr. Ash Seif presented to customers at his store. Mr. Mick estimated that he had heard from 300 residents total between those who spoke, emailed, and signed the petition, leaving roughly 270 who supported the license.

Golden Quick Mart liquor license petition
The header of the first of 19 pages of the petition the owner of Golden Quick Mart presented to Village Manager Tom Mick. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

eNews Park Forest viewed the petition in the Village Manager’s office on July 11. When Village Manager Tom Mick spoke at the Village Board meeting, he said he had 17 pages of signatures from Mr. Seif, each page with about 20 names on it. When eNews Park Forest met with Mr. Mick the next afternoon, Mr. Seif had presented two more completed pages to Mr. Mick.

The petition reads:

As Park Forest neighborhood residents, we strongly support [emphasis in original] Mr. Seif’s application for a liquor license. Mr. Seif has already demonstrated a tremendous commitment to the community and his concept for Golden Quick Mart at 313 Illinois Street is an exciting development for the community.

By signing this petition I, a resident of Park Forest, acknowledge full suppoprt towards Mr. Seif’s liquor license application.

Each page was completed with names, addresses, and phone numbers of Park Forest residents, most of them from the East Lincolnwood area.

Residents who spoke at the meetings expressed concerns about the proximity of the Golden Quick Mart to Illinois Montessori Childrens, located at that location, next to the store. For his part, Mr. Seif told the Village he will sell only packaged liquor, not individual bottles or cans. Initially, he plans to sell only beer and wine. By ordinance, liquor may not take up more than 15% of the shelf space in the business. This license, if granted, will be the same as those currently held by CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and 7-Eleven. This provision would also apply to the PF Foods, the business coming to South Orchard Drive.

CVS does sell individual cans of beer.

Residents at the meetings expressed other concerns as well (video from the July 10 public commentary is below).

The Golden Quick Mart has been in operation since 2013, according to information provided by the Village. However, Mr. Seif has owned the business since July 2016.

Golden Quick Mart
Golden Quick Mart, 313 Illinois Street. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Under previous owners, the store became a menace. As Mayor John Ostenburg pointed out during his comments at the meeting of July 10. Mr. Ostenburg has been liquor commissioner for 18 years, the length of his tenure as mayor. He told residents he personally has no love for alcohol, “having had family members who were killed as the result of drunken drivers.”

Years ago, the Village of Park Forest raised potential fines that may be imposed against businesses that were found by the liquor commissioner to have violated liquor laws. Mr. Ostenburg referenced an owner at the same location “two owners back” who, according to Mr. Ostenburg, was “selling stolen liquor at one point. They were selling cigarettes that were stolen at one point. They were selling individual shooters in small bottles that people could take out and drink in the parking lot.”

The Village of Park Forest revoked that owner’s liquor license, Mr. Ostenburg said, and the Illinois Liquor Commission upheld the ruling. “Unfortunately,” Mr. Ostenburg continued, “[that owner] went to the Circuit Court, and the Circuit Court put that license back in place.”

residents, village board meeting, liquor license, July 10
Residents who live in proximity to the Golden Quick Mart attended the July 10 board meeting. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

The courts do tend to favor businesses. This ruling, however, was a blemish to the Village. The store, at the time, was filthy. Shelves and goods on the shelves were covered in dust.

The store is quite different today, however. Mr. Seif keeps the store very clean, and the store is brightly lit with LED lights that Mr. Seif purchased. There is also an LED light over the entrance of the store which Mr. Seif said cost him $1,900, so the store and parking lot are properly illuminated at night. The owner says he has plans for a grill, and appears to be working hard improve what the store offers. Mr. Seif says he also has plans to repair and coat and line the parking lot, install a sign in the parkway in front of the business. When we spoke on July 11, he said he was expecting six signs to be installed in the panels beneath the windows of the store, improving the facade.

Mr. Mick said, in his observations when at the store, Mr. Seif knows his patrons, and they know him. eNews Park Forest observed this same, cordial, professional relationship Mr. Seif has with his patrons when visiting the store on July 11.

The decision now rests with the Village Board.