New Party Rules—A Top Priority in Naperville’s Downtown

April 2015 View more

There's always something to celebrate!When you go out for a weekend dinner at a downtown Naperville restaurant, you might stick around long enough to see the venue transform into a nightclub atmosphere as the music gets louder, tables are moved to reveal a dance floor, and the crowd gets younger.

The tremendous popularity of Naperville’s downtown nightlife is one of the city’s many success stories.

On the flip side, there has been some violence in recent years, including two incidents last summer: A fatal car crash in a quarry near downtown and a large fight in the middle of Washington Street that was documented in a YouTube video.

If late 2014 and early 2015 are any indication, this summer should be different.

New Rules and Regulations

The main reasons are new regulations imposed by the Naperville City Council last September as well as a partnership between business owners, the City, and the Naperville Police Department.

“The issue has been overconsumption,” Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said. “The serious issues have to do with people simply drinking too much alcohol. Then they make bad decisions and problems surface. The police department has to deal with that.”

The new rules prohibit entry or re-entry into bars one hour before the 2 a.m. closing time. In addition, there are no last calls for shots, the largest serving size for non-craft beers can be 22 ounces, and the price of alcohol cannot be reduced by more than 50 percent.

The enter/re-enter rule has been the most effective, Marshall said. People are now leaving at different times between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., which has prevented large crowds in the downtown area once the bars close at 2 a.m.

“It’s a lot of people in a relatively small space,” Marshall said. “When you have crowds of people things can happen. It’s our experience in the past that someone will bump somebody, say something to somebody, and pretty soon you have an altercation. We’re very optimistic that these regulations will make a positive impact on downtown, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Best Practices

Naperville Restaurant Association (NRA) members are not only complying with the regulations, they’re adding a few best practices of their own, which has resulted in a better environment downtown since last fall, said NRA President Anthony Losurdo.

“Across the board it’s getting better,” Losurdo said. “We’re not in peak summertime, when the problems occurred. Since then, we’ve done a great job to make the communication process better.”

The centerpiece of the improved communication is restaurants’ adaptation of the GroupMe app. With the app, one bar can immediately text all others at once with a description of a patron who was kicked out or kept out because of intoxication.

“It’s had a huge impact,” Losurdo said.

Another city council requirement was extra training for security guards. The association has taken it a step farther by organizing its own extra training session led by a former police officer. Twelve restaurants sent more than 50 people to the four-hour class in February.

Next Steps

So far, the initial crime statistics are positive, Marshall said, but the real test will come this summer. To prepare, the Naperville Police Department, restaurant owners and others will meet to discuss their plans. Also, NPD plans to deploy uniformed police as it has in the past, as well as plainclothes officers who will ensure compliance with the regulations. Expect to see more security cameras on the road and in parking garages.

“It’s something as a police department we’re continuing to monitor,” Marshall said, adding that he wants people to enjoy downtown, have a good time and see friends. “We just ask one thing – obey our laws and ordinances.”