By SAM RAPPAPORT
Community members are getting behind a Hyde Park resident’s proposal to open a wine shop at 1448 E. 57th St.
Steven Lucy, owner of Open Produce, 1635 E. 55th St., presented his plans for a 57th Street wine shop at a community meeting, Thursday night, to overwhelming support. About 50 people showed up to the meeting, which was organized by Ald. Leslie Hairston’s (5th) office and was held at Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Only three people at Thursday’s meeting voted in opposition to the idea.
The alderman’s office organized the meeting to gauge community support for the plan. The alderman must give Lucy her seal of approval if the city is to grant him a liquor license.
Hairston’s chief of staff Kimberly Webb, who stepped in for the alderman at Thursday’s meeting, said that given the community’s strong support Hairston would pen a letter to the city in support of Lucy’s proposal. However, Webb said that a barrage of dissenting letters from Hyde Park residents could still overrule the alderman’s support.
Barry and Judith Kritzberg were two of the three people at the meeting who were against the wine shop. The Kritzbergs live directly across the street from the proposed location of the store and they feel that the business would alter the character of 57th Street.
“It’s not opposition to a wine store,” Judith Kritzberg said. “It’s opposition to the noise and traffic that would come as a result. I don’t see the need for it.”
Lucy said he didn’t expect the shop to cause street congestion seeing that customers would only stop in for short periods of time. As for parking, Lucy said that customers with cars would be able to use the metered parking directly in front of the store.
“I don’t anticipate it affecting resident traffic much,” Lucy said. “I think that most people will be coming on foot.”
Lucy said the store would close at 10 p.m. on weekdays and slightly later on weekends.
Sam Darrigrand, owner of Zaleski and Horvath Market Café, 1323 E. 57th St., noted that Lucy’s wine shop would help other businesses in the area by drawing customers to 57th Street.
“A wine shop would add variety,” Derrigrand said. “And locally owned businesses are always a good thing,”
Following the meeting, Lucy said he was surprised by the amount of positive feedback.
“I expected more varied opinions, I was very pleased,” Lucy said. “Now comes the hard part of opening a store.”
Lucy now begins the formal process of applying for a liquor license. He said the whole affair should take about 60 days.
Pending the city’s approval, Lucy said he hopes to set an opening date for this fall.