By Mick Swasko
12:19 PM CDT, May 14, 2012
Attorneys for the Congress Theater have filed a complaint in Cook County Court seeking to allow the venue to continue selling liquor during live performances.
The complaint comes as the venue has been cited several times in recent months for liquor ordinance violations. Under the code, Congress--as well as other live venues--can only serve liquor an hour before performances and during intermissions. However, the Logan Square venue is seeking a judge to declare that the code does not apply to live music venues as it does to traditional theaters.
"If you're going to apply this law against the Congress Theater--by default every other theater is also in violation," Pedro Cervantes, a lawyer representing the venue, said.
The suit states that similar venues like The Vic, Lincoln Hall and Park West all have the same type of liquor license as the Congress, and as such, should receive the same type of treatment and enforcement as the Congress. Cervantes said he hopes a judge will rule that sales of liquor during shows are permissible.
The complaint also alleges that Congress Theater management was told that if further violations occur, "liquor sales during a music performance would be shut down and an arrest of the person in charge" would be made.
A temporary stop to citations is sought as the case is decided; however the suit does not seek monetary damages. Cervantes said he was told late Friday by a city attorney that the city may not pursue the previous violations the Congress has been issued.
The suit comes as the theater is currently working its way through a city nuisance hearing process, in which venue officials have been asked for better soundproofing, greater cooperation with police and tighter security at the venue. At the first hearing in April, several neighbors spoke out about what they said are noise and safety concerns that have long existed in the neighborhood because of the venue.
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