Were Savoy trustees receptive to the theater being granted a liquor license?
At their meeting Wednesday, some were still opposed to the idea, but the board directed staff to schedule a study session to hear more details.
Phoenix Theatres Entertainment LLC, which took over the Savoy 16 in December and reopened it Friday for the first time since March, would like to serve alcohol, CEO Phil Zacheretti said.
“Obviously, there’s another theater down the street that does have a liquor license,” he said, referring to AMC Champaign 13. “A lot of theaters have gained that over the years, and we’d love to have that.”
Village Administrator Christopher Walton said he had discussed the liquor license with Phoenix Theatres and said he would check with the board to see if there was interest in revisiting the issue.
In June 2019, the board voted 4-2 against a similar request from Goodrich Quality Theaters.
Trustee Bill Vavrik said he still supports giving the theater a liquor license: “I think it’s important for the village to have thriving industry, and that is something that would help our theater come back.”
Trustee John Brown said that while he voted no last time, he would be willing to reconsider it.
“In light of the fact that the previous theater operators got shut down, I’d rather see a theater that’s operational than one that is sitting vacant,” he said. “I’d want to hear from them on how they ensure that underage persons are not partaking.”
Trustee Jan Niccum argued that the Savoy 16 didn’t close because it lacked a liquor license, but because of Goodrich’s bankruptcy.
“Unless there’s some major change that we have not been told about, I’m still a no vote on this topic,” he said, citing concerns about enforcement of underage drinking. “Being a frequent theater goer prior to shutdown, I can attest that there were very seldom any visits by theater staff.”
Trustee Dee Shonkwiler said he’d like to revisit the topic, but shared similar concerns about enforcement.
Trustee Heather Mangian said she also remained concerned about underage drinking.
“If we’re going to discuss this again, then we need to see what the model is and how those issues rightly brought to our attention are addressed and what that will look like,” she said. “Our decision was carefully considered last time, so hopefully there’ll be new information.”
Village President Joan Dykstra noted that “there doesn’t seem to be a problem” with alcohol sales at the AMC in Champaign, which has served it for several years now.
Walton said he’d schedule a study session and has let Phoenix Theatres know they would need to “come with their A game.”
“I did relay to the company that there would be significant questions from the board regarding safety and protocols and in how they were going to do that,” he said. “