Smith Village, a retirement center in Chicago's Morgan Park community. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 24, 2014 6:37AM
Having a glass of wine or a cold beer with a meal in the dining room has been acceptable for residents at Smith Village — a retirement center in Chicago’s Morgan Park community — as long as they brought their own.
But saying that upgrading amenities for senior citizens at such centers is a national trend, Smith Village now has a liquor license.
Starting sometime this summer, the more than 300 residents of the center, 2320 W. 113th Place, no longer will need to lug a bottle of wine or a couple of cans of beer from their rooms to enjoy with their meals.
The license that allows beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages to be served was obtained with the help of Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th), and it means a lot to residents, Smith Senior Living CEO Kevin McGee said.
“We see this dining room as an extension of our residents’ apartments. Smith Crossing, our sister campus in Orland Park, when they completed their expansion two years ago, they got a liquor license and have a full-service bar,” McGee said. “Over the years, people would ask, ‘Why can’t we have a glass of wine with dinner?’ When Smith Crossing opened the expansion, a group of our residents went to tour it. Of course, they came back and said, ‘How come we can’t have a bar?’
“We’re seeing this as a trend nationally. A lot (of senior living centers) are trying to offer more in the dining room,” McGee said.
That’s good news for Phil Carlin and Elaine Spencer, two longtime residents of Smith Village. They enjoy a libation with their meals now and then.
“This is a very good idea. I think it’s a nice add-on for our residents. I think it will be a convenience for people,” said Spencer, 82. “We usually bring down our own bottle.”
“I think it’s welcome,” said Carlin, 86. “It adds another dimension that isn’t required but is very pleasurable. I like a glass of beer or a glass of wine with dinner.”
Residents and their guests still will be allowed to bring their own beverages, McGee said.
“Whenever my boys come over — and they’ve always said they’ve never had a bad meal at Smith Village — they bring their own beer,” Spencer, the mother of four, said with a laugh.