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Homewood denies liquor license for proposed wine bar

The village board did not approve a liquor license for a prospective wine and microbrewery bar and video gambling café proposed in Homewood. 

Ronakkumar Patel, the owner of Family Wine and Liquor at 18707 Dixie Highway, was requesting a liquor and gaming license for a storefront in the same building with the address 18719 Dixie Highway. Patel’s business plan said the proposed business would serve moderately priced wines and local microbrew beers, packaged and prepared foods with video gaming available.

Patel spoke to the board at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24. The type of license he requested requires 75 percent of revenue generated from food. Trustee Barbara Dawkins asked how that requirement would be met without an on-site kitchen. Patel said the wine bar would cater with outside food, but couldn’t estimate the breakdown of his sales. 

“This is intended for more of a restaurant-type feel. What you’re describing is really a gaming bar with a side of wine and beer,” Dawkins said. 

Mayor Richard Hofeld and trustees asked if Patel would consider opening the wine bar without gaming. He said he wouldn’t. 

“We need some kind of entertainment,” Patel said. “If somebody comes to the wine bar, they want to have something different.” 

No trustee motioned to approve the license, so no votes were tallied. 

In other business, the board recognized police officer Paul Neitzel for 20 years with the Homewood police department.

Neitzel was hired in Homewood in 2001 after working with the departments in Glenwood and Sauk Village. He’s been a member of Homewood’s criminal investigations unit for more than 9 years.

Neitzel was a tactical officer from 2008 until 2010, then a detective until July 2018. He’s part of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and an accident investigator with the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team.

Officer Hernan Benuelos stands before the Homewood village board Tuesday ahead of being sworn into his position with the police department. He was hired Aug. 23. (David P. Funk/H-F Chronicle)

A new officer also took the oath of office.

Hernan Banuelos graduated from Thornwood High School in 2008 and served in the United States Air Force Reserve from 2011 thru 2017. 

Banuelos has an associate’s degree in applied science from the Community College of the Air Force and a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Westwood College. He previously worked for the Chicago police department and participated in the Chicago police academy training program in 2015.

The board also approved an amendment to its agreement with the South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority. SSLBDA manages tax or bank-foreclosed properties with the intention of redeveloping them.

The amendment gives the SSLBDA authority to file petitions of abandonment on vacant properties and updates language to reflect a new legal counsel for the body. 

Phillip Kosanovich was appointed to the economic development committee for a two-year term.

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