The Toppers Pizza coming to 68th and State streets will get to stay open until 3:30 a.m. for dine-in/carry-out business, as well as delivery, the Common Council decided July 3. The decision overturned a committee's recommendation the prior week.
Alderwoman Cheryl Berdan cast the lone dissenting vote when the committee suggested only allowing delivery service after midnight. She made the motion to allow the business to operate fully until 3:30 a.m. daily, and nine of the 11 aldermen in attendance agreed.
Berdan voiced assurance in the company's good reputation, security system and experience with late-night hours as reasons for allowing it to stay open so late.
"Toppers' trademark is to be open those times," she said. "Basically I felt the Community Development (Committee) treated this business as a child. It seemed like we were trying to punish them before they did anything wrong."
Damon Parr, area supervisor for Toppers Pizza, said the business wants to be the last one open. All of its stores remain open until somewhere between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., he added,
In a letter to council members, Parr said Toppers serves late-shift workers at "hospitals, police stations, manufacturing facilities, hotels, restaurants, bars and other respectable lines of work that require them to maintain schedules that are not the same as yours."
The pizza place could still cater to all those customers through its delivery service after midnight, Alderman Dennis McBride said.
He and Alderman Tim Hanson voted against allowing Toppers to remain open to foot traffic after midnight, citing a greater likelihood for crime in this area that is abutted by residential properties.
State Street has seen its problems, McBride said. In addition, the restaurant would be isolated in the wee hours of the morning. George Webb, several blocks away, remains open 24 hours a day but it is surrounded by other bars that result in a lot of eyes on the street to deter crime, McBride added.
He suggested starting with fewer hours and perhaps extending those in the future if there aren't problems.
"Once given, it's harder to take back then extend hours," McBride said.
Besides George Webb, most businesses close by 2 p.m. weekdays and 2:30 p.m. weekends. Bar time is set by the state and unless a conditional use permit is issued the city can't require businesses that sell liquor to close any earlier, City Attorney Alan Kesner said.
It would make sense to have Toppers close at the same time as other businesses on State Street, said Alderman John Dubinski, who represents the district.
If that were the case, people leaving the bars couldn't get over to Toppers before it closed, several aldermen said.
"This could be a good place for people who need to sober up," Alderman Joel Tilleson said.
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