Oak Park City Council votes to end longtime prohibition of alcohol at restaurants

OAK PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) - Under old law, if you wanted a cold beer or a glass of wine to accompany your meal at an Oak Park restaurant, that would be impossible. The city has never allowed the sale of alcoholic drinks in its eateries. Monday, their city council voted to change that law and put an end to alcohol prohibition at area restaurants.

The five-member council voted to allow tavern licenses for Oak Park businesses. These would permit the sale of beer and wine at restaurants.

Under the old law, liquor stores and other businesses within this Oakland County city were able to sell liquor that you can take home with you. There are no bars.

There are still a number of communities throughout Michigan that restrict alcohol sales of one type or another. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs tells 7 Action News that 249 municipalities throughout the state, "prohibit the sale of spirit products."

Oak Park is the largest community in metro Detroit to do so.

The license does have some restrictions. It would limit businesses with a "tavern license" from being too close to schools and houses of worship.

Restaurants would also have to insure that at least 50% of their sales are coming from food, not alcohol.

Under the proposed rules, tavern-licensed businesses would have to stop serving alcohol at midnight.

The choice of whether to allow alcoholic drinks in Oak Park is certainly one that's been put before the city's lawmakers and voters in the past.

In 2003, the city of Oak Park annexed a small amount of land that previously belonged to Royal Oak Township. The Royal Kubo, a Philippino restaurant and karaoke bar had been renting space in a shopping center on Greenfield that was part of the annexed land.

Voters were asked to decide whether the Royal Kubo could continue to operate after it became an Oak Park business. In November of 2005, they upheld the city's ban on liquor sales at restaurants and the Royal Kubo was forced to leave Oak Park and move to Clawson.

Elsewhere in Michigan there are still five communities that ban any sale of alcohol – whether it's at a bar or a liquor or grocery story. They are Fillmore and Overisel Townships in Allegan County, Olive and Zeeland Townships in Ottawa County and Washington Township in Gratiot County.

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