City to consider temporary to-go liquor licenses to provide relief to business owners


Noah Thornburgh

Mayor Jerry Smith speaks to DeKalb business owners’ concerns Tuesday at an emergency meeting in the municipal building, 200 S. Fourth St., while Brad Hoey, president of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, films on his phone.

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — As local restaurant owners have been forced to shut their doors to dine-in customers due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the City of DeKalb held an emergency meeting Tuesday to find a way to help support local businesses.

On Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that all restaurants and bars in Illinois will be closed to the public from Monday night through March 30 to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

City Manager Bill Nicklas said a lot of local business owners have come to him asking how they can still sell alcohol despite the closures.

Nicklas said he will propose issuing package liquor licenses that last for 90 days. A package liquor license would allow customers to buy alcohol that is sold in the original package and take it as a to-go order.

The proposal will go before the city council Monday.

“That way you could have a six-pack and a meal to go,” Nicklas said. “The Council will have to consider it and vote on it Monday night.”

Noah Thornburgh
City Manager Bill Nicklas speaks to DeKalb business owners Tuesday at an emergency meeting to address the state-wide ban on dine-in service.
Noah Thornburgh
Lysol wipes were used to clean the microphones as they were passed to meeting attendees.
Noah Thornburgh
State Representative Jeff Keicher answers questions about the state’s reactions to COVID-19.

Tara Russo, executive director of Elder Care Services of DeKalb County, said the organization will receive a $17,000 grant from the Illinois Department on Aging to use on food for seniors and emergency supplies. The city of DeKalb has the most senior citizens of any DeKalb County municipality.

Russo said she wants to collaborate with local restaurants to deliver food to seniors in DeKalb County to help support restaurant owners.

“Seniors love to go out to eat, it’s one of the highlights of their day,” Russo said. “We have a lot of good food in this area and a lot of great restaurants, so I thought we could work together. I would like to use this money in the best way possible to help the seniors, help the businesses and help the community.”

Illinois State Rep. Jeff Keicher was in attendance at the meeting and reminded business owners to track spoilage, keep inventory numbers and track lost revenue so they can be rewarded a rescue package.


“We know that the governor has access to information we don’t know,” Keicher said. “I do think some of what he’s done has maybe been an overreach … let’s allow him the latitude to protect the people of the State of Illinois.”

Mayor Jerry Smith said he was in a conference call with Pritzker today where the governor made it clear that no one was immune from the virus.

As of March 17, there are 160 cases confirmed in Illinois and one death.

“This is a collaborative effort. This is a community effort,” Smith said. “We are going to do everything that we possibly can as the city of DeKalb to assist you.”


Assistant Sports Editor Matt Boecker contributed reporting.