A new upscale drinking and eating establishment that may include a video gambling area will open next year in Darien.
On Nov. 4, aldermen approved a special use permit for a drinking and eating establishment for Stella's Place, which will open in a vacant storefront next to the Vitamin Shoppe near the 2400 block of 75th Street.
Gary Leff, the CEO and founder of Laredo Hospitality, said the drinking and eating establishment will open in about six months. "It will be an upscale café that will serve beer, wine and food," Leff said. "I think it will be a great place for adults who want to go out for a social experience, but don't want to go to a typical bar or tavern."
Leff also said he plans to offer iPads for customers to check the news, play games and browse the Internet. Food items on the menu will include hamburgers, flatbread pizza and even breakfast food.
Leff said he has another Stella's Place location in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates. Leff said he also would like to have a video gambling area at the new establishment, but added that he is waiting on the city to make the final decision about gaming.
In March, the city approved an ordinance allowing video gambling, but told liquor establishments it could rescind the ordinance if gambling was determined not to be a good fit for the community.
But a survey earlier in the year by the Darien Police Department found that local communities with video gambling at liquor establishments have not seen an increase in crime and criminal activity.
Darien Mayor Kathleen Weaversaid she has concerns about video gaming at Stella's Place and other bars in the western suburb. "I think it (Stella's) will be a beautiful place, but I am against gambling and the expansion of it in Illinois," Weaver said after the city council meeting.
City officials, however, are expected to discuss the issue at a meeting later this month.
The Illinois General Assembly — which first approved video gambling in May 2009 — put a provision in the law that allows communities to opt out of video gambling. After more than three years of negotiations and delays, the first machines were turned on at some bars in October 2012.
The law allows up to five video poker machines to be installed at truck stops, fraternal organizations and establishments that hold liquor licenses. Some of the revenues from the machines will go to bar owners and to fund state capital improvement projects.