Reduced liquor and gaming license fees bringing financial relief to hopeful business owners

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria bar and restaurant owners are looking forward to reduced liquor and gaming license fees following more than a year of financial stress related to COVID-19 mitigation regulations.

Tuesday night, Peoria City Council unanimously passed the ordinance, reducing the cost to renew liquor and gaming licenses by 50 percent, available to all bars and restaurants that have no current COVID-19 regulation violations on record. The council hopes this is the start of rebuilding the city’s local businesses.

Paul Laqouros, the owner of Olympia Sports Bar and Grill, explained the motion is a step in the right direction, helping to reduce costs for liquor and gaming services that are being utilized less or not at all.

“There’s thousands of dollars a year that we’re shelling out for these licenses,” Loqouros said, “If we’re not utilizing them, it seems really unfair to charge us the full rate.”

Laqouros, who strictly follows COVID-19 safety guidelines and restaurant mitigation laws at Olympia, said running a business has become more expensive, adding to the importance of cutting costs at this time.

“We provide masks at the door, all the extra cleaning supplies — those aren’t cheap,” Loqouros said.

The Olympia bar owner also said the hardest part of this last year was watching his employees struggle and is happy that this motion may provide relief to both businesses and their employees.

Pat Sullivan, owner of the downtown bar Kelleher’s, said he is also grateful to ease any financial stress for his employees.

“It just helps us to keep our employees employed, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sullivan said. “They’re raising kids, they’re having their struggles–anything that they can help us with, we appreciate it.”

Sullivan said there is still a long road ahead to normalcy, but that this motion is a small step towards reviving and repairing the damages to the city’s restaurants and bars.

“Even when you shell it in half, you hope you make enough after money that,” Sullivan said. “We have to keep pushing forward.”

The discount will last for the rest of 2021, exempting grocery stores liquor stores, gas stations.

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