Homewood beer/wine business gets chance to grow
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent November 28, 2012 5:32PM
Jay Meyers, manager at Grape & Grain Co., talks about home brewing items with Chris Toepfer, right, at the specialty store in Homewood, IL, on Monday, September 17, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 30, 2012 3:49PM
More seating and the elimination of a two-drink limit are on tap at Grape & Grain Co., a nearly 6-month-old craft beer- and wine-tasting business in Homewood.
The village board on Tuesday night approved business owner Ron Khalaf’s request to amend his liquor license, which limited customers to two drinks.
Some trustees expressed concerns about the changes, which are effective immediately, but the vote was unanimous.
Homewood economic development director Paula Wallrich said Khalaf requested a change to allow unlimited drinks because he found that about 70 percent of his business is on-site consumption rather than carry-out. She said Khalaf also would add three more tables and a couple of couches to increase his seating, which had been limited to 24 people at tables, couches and a bar in his 5,000-square-foot establishment.
Wallrich said Khalaf wanted the changes now to take advantage of the upcoming holiday season.
Grape & Grain Co. manager Jay Meyers said word has spread about the company’s products, but that limiting drinks and limited seating were hurting prospects for growth.
“Under the current system, if we have a wine-tasting, that only allows you to have maybe one drink at the bar,” Meyers said.
Trustee Tom Kataras questioned the request to amend the liquor license after such a short time in business.
“It bothers me that the whole concept was predicated on wine-tasting and microbrews as ‘sampling,’ ” Kataras said. He said Khalaf was turning the business into a “wine and beer bar.”
“It kind of gets away from the (upscale) concept we all embraced,” Kataras said.
Trustee Barbara Dawkins agreed but said the business should be allowed to add seating. She said she was not “comfortable” with amending the liquor license, however.
“It was not sold to us as a bar,” Dawkins said.
Trustee Lisa Purcell acknowledged that customers were not happy with the limitations. She said she heard such comments during her own visits to Grape & Grain.
Purcell said that as long as a ban on televisions and video games is upheld, the business would retain its “living room feel” even with the other changes.
Trustee Ann Colton said Khalaf had to listen to his customers.
“Who your business is fits in very well with who Homewood is,” Colton said. “As a village, we are trying really hard to develop an 18-hour downtown. We don’t want to be one of those communities who rolls up their sidewalks at 8 o’clock. We want people to spend their money here as opposed to one of our neighboring communities.”