Printer Friendly Version

Village Vision News

Group proposes opening sports-themed pub in village

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trustees to look again at video gaming

Jeff Ludwick spoke to trustees during the public comment portion of the March 7 board meeting about plans to open a sports-themed pub and pizza place in the village.

A name has already been picked — The Trojan Horse Pizza, Pub and Sports — for the proposed business, and a lease has been secured, Ludwick said. The location is the former Golf USA outlet on Barnett Avenue. Partners in the business are Nichole Corrington and Craig “Woody” Wilson.

Wilson has the most practical experience as the owner of Woody’s and Sliderz. Corrington owns Capelli’s Studio and Spa. Ludwick is a Country Companies agent.

“There will be a $200,000 investment,” Ludwick said of plans for the property. He described the business as a full restaurant and bar specializing in pizza, sandwiches and salads. He also said there would be live music and karaoke.

There is a video gaming component to the business plan, as well, Ludwick said.

“There will be five machines in total,” he said in a later interview. “We have to get the village to sign off on our plans, and we’ve got quite a bit of build-out to do, but we’re hoping to open sometime this summer.”

Ludwick described it as a community pub, with décor that would have Cubs, Cardinals and a Maroa-Forsyth High School sports theme.

The video gaming part of the plan will require some reworking of the village’s liquor code if the plan is to be approved. Trustees decided in January to uphold the village’s ban on video gaming. At the time, no trustee was in favor of lifting the ban, a point that Mayor Marilyn Johnson wasted no time in reminding the group of at the March 7 meeting.

Johnson led off the discussion by reading from a previous edition of the Village Vision newsletter noting that at that Jan. 18 board meeting, no trustees expressed an interest in lifting the 2012 ban on video gaming. More than one trustee mentioned at the time that residents weren’t in favor of video gaming. The policy was left unchanged with the ban still in effect.

Johnson also read from the minutes of the Jan. 18 board meeting, which noted in part that “trustees were in agreement that public consensus was that it (video gaming) is not wanted here, and it does not promote a family-friendly environment.”

In addition, Johnson also read a message from Trustee Steve Hubbard who was unable to attend the meeting that night in January. His note indicated that he was not in favor of lifting the ban.

Hubbard then spoke saying that he indeed had written those words, but he clearly had changed his mind noting he’d had no objections from the 32 people he had asked about the issue since. He also said that video gaming is all around us now, citing a new establishment just outside the village boundary that offers it.

“I like the gentlemen involved in the business,” Hubbard said. “These are local guys, and now we have a solid proposal — that’s the big difference. I’d like to reconsider lifting the ban.”

Village Attorney Jeff Jurgens, citing state law, cautioned trustees in January and again on March 7 that removing the ban would open the possibility of other businesses and organizations coming to town and bringing video gaming with them.

“As a non-home rule community, if you open this door, you can’t stop others from coming with video-gaming terminals,” Jurgens said.

He mentioned specifically truck stops and veterans and fraternal organizations, but added that liquor stores and gas stations would not be allowed to have video gaming. He said the best way to have control is to tie video gaming to the liquor license process.

“We’d have to change the liquor code,” he said.

Trustee Larry Reed said on Jan. 18 that he didn’t particularly support the issue or see it as a problem.

“I don’t see it as a problem that affects families,” Reed said in January. “It’s not a big deal. I think we make more out of it than it is.”

On March 7, his opinion hadn’t changed.

“I have no problem (with video gaming) if it’s done right and regulated properly,” Reed said. “People have poker nights in their homes, there’s raffles, 50-50 drawings and the Illinois Lottery.”

Trustee David Wendt said on Jan. 18 that the feedback he was getting on the subject was negative. On March 7, he said that feedback was now split 50-50.

“We had a consensus, and a month later we change this,” Johnson said, clearly agitated. “That looks like politics to me.”

“Mayor, you can call it what you want,” Wendt replied. “But I’m fully comfortable talking to anyone about this and saying we reconsidered because we have a specific proposal. January was a general discussion; this is a specific proposal.”

Trustee Kerstin Trachtenberg asked if the gaming component was necessary.

“It looks like we’re meeting a minimum food requirement to have video gaming,” she said. “It looks like we’re changing because of the people involved, and I don’t think we want to give people that impression.”

Trustee Bob Gruenewald remained as against the issue on March 7 as he was on Jan. 18, saying the he was “not ready to go down this path.”

“I’m in favor of bringing more retail, but the majority of people I talk to are not in favor of this,” Gruenewald said. “I’m not sure I see how this proposal improves our village in any way. It’s not the family-friendly image that we want.”

Gruenewald called the village one of the most desirable places to live in the state, adding that he would not be in favor of having video gaming.

Ludwick said he and his group had met with each trustee prior to the March 7 meeting so as not “to surprise anyone with our plans.”

He said with seven hotels nearby and an eighth one coming, they were hoping to attract visitors who won’t have to go into Decatur for entertainment.

“We’re hoping someone with an interest in live music or karaoke will come in,” Ludwick said.

Votes were 4-2 in favor of staff changing the liquor code. Votes against came from Gruenewald and Trachtenberg.

^ Back to Top ^

Site by HomeSight, LLC