CRRNH_NewWarsaw_020724

New Warsaw saga continues

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Neighbors to have a second say about banquet hall

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By Dermot Connolly and Tim Hadac

Several dozen Clearing residents interested in the future of the shuttered New Warsaw Restaurant & Banquets property, 6250 W. 63rd St., had their say last week.

More than 50 people turned out on Feb. 14 at the Clearing Branch Library to hear from businessman Filemon Ramirez, who is in the process of purchasing the New Warsaw from its longtime owner, Teresa Marcinkowski.CRRNH NewWarsaw 020724 1

The gathering was held within the regularly scheduled CAPS Beat 812 meeting. It occurred because 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn downzoned the New Warsaw site from commercial to residential—a common tactic some aldermen use to slow or even stop the pace of change in business districts.

But because residents had only 60 minutes to ask questions (the meeting started at 7 p.m., and the library closes promptly at 8), Quinn has scheduled a second public meeting. It is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 at Hale Park, 6258 W. 62nd St.

The alderman said he expects strong local participation in the meeting, including from the Clearing Night Force, as well as CAPS Beat 812 facilitator John Kurtovich.

Quinn wants clarity, not rumors

Quinn recently expressed dissatisfaction with Ramirez for not introducing himself to the community and discussing his plans for the property. The downzoning was his way to force that to occur.

“When people start seeing work done, and no information is provided, that is when rumors start to fly,” the alderman said. “That is why I filed an ordinance…asking for the zoning to be changed to residential. If I hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be having this meeting, and the business would just open. This gives the community a voice.”

Quinn assured residents that the property would not be turned into residential housing.

“It would just be a place-holder. It puts a pause on the process,” he said, noting that it would be require developers to bring their plans to the community to ask for a zoning change.

“That would be easy to do,” he said.

Attorney John Sugrue, representing Ramirez, acknowledged that not informing the 13rd Ward office and the community at large of the plans was a mistake.

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Businessman Filemon Ramirez, who has signed a contract to purchase the New Warsaw facility, answers questions about his plans at a Feb. 14 meeting at the Clearing Branch Library. –Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Dermot Connolly

“I know a phone call would have helped,” he said.

Sugrue did most of the talking for Ramirez, who has signed a contract to purchase the property. Ramirez, a former Garfield Ridge resident, already owns two other banquet halls in the area: 3810 W. 63rd St. (Banquetes La Gloria 63, formerly Royalty East Banquet Hall) and 4152 W. 47th St. (La Gloria Banquet Hall, formerly The Manor on 47th).

Sugrue said Ramirez plans to have two banquet rooms on the premises, with room for about 300 people total. He said there are plans to invest “a lot of money” in the property, completely repaving the parking lot and adding exterior lighting.

At the Feb. 14 meeting, some residents raised concerns about cars spilling out of the parking lot into neighborhood streets when events are held there on weekends because there are about 30 parking spots in the lot.

State Rep. Angelica “Angie” Guerrero-Cuellar (D-22nd), who was also there, pointed out that during the summer, nearby Hale Park already draws crowds of people for baseball and other activities.

She and others predicted that both sides of 63rd Street would be lined with cars during banquets at the New Warsaw.

Judy Ollry, president of the Clearing Night Force neighborhood watch group, said she was most concerned about the fact that Ramirez does not plan to apply for a liquor license himself. Instead, Sugrue said he will hire caterers who will provide liquor when needed.

“I like to keep it simple. I work with a few caterers,” said Ramirez, who was in the back of the room at the library.

Sugrue said Ramirez does have his own team of bartenders.

“They are all BASSET-certified,” he said, referring to a training program bartenders can go through to learn how to handle intoxicated customers.”

“I am old-school,” Ollry said. “Having worked for the city, I know that having the ability to take away a liquor license gives the city better control if there is a problem.”

“A banquet hall would be OK with me,” said Rosa Lee. “It is basically what was there before. But I want to find out more about Mr. Ramirez’s other businesses, to see if there were any problems.”

Police at the meeting said a review of activity at the 47th Street location over the past 12 months showed no police calls, but the 63rd Street location had not been checked yet.

Zenon McHugh, a small-business owner and officer with the Midway Chamber of Commerce, suggested that Ramirez’s business be given a chance.

“Roadblocks shouldn’t be put up for businesses,” he said. “If they are going to be community friendly, as they say they will, maybe we can have our baseball banquets there. It might be good for the community. Are they going to sponsor our teams and get involved in the community?”

In the end, Quinn appeared to agree to pause downzoning of the New Warsaw property, pending the outcome of another community meeting. The date and place of that meeting have not yet been determined.

“As always, I want to ensure that the community has ample opportunity to weigh in, that their voices are heard by those who want to conduct business here,” the alderman said.

Clearing residents not at the meeting also weighed in.

“This all seems suspicious to me,” said Jorge Marquez. “I want to know why this Hispanic businessman is being put through the wringer by the alderman. Did people object when the Mayfield became a banquet hall—or the European Chalet? I wonder.”

“I wish the Chicago Park District would buy the New Warsaw, knock it down and make parking for parents whose kids play baseball. football and soccer on Hale Park’s south fields,” said Margaret Kwiatkowski. “Every time there’s a game, these parents park wherever they can, and those of us living around here can’t even park in front of our own homes.”

New Warsaw had been open for years, but business seemed to be in a long, slow decline and was damaged greatly by the pandemic, as many others were. It closed in 2023.

Old-timers in the neighborhood may remember the site under its name in the 1960s and early 1970s: Margo’s Mansion, also a restaurant and banquet hall. Later that decade, it was known as the Velvet Coachman restaurant and then the New Golden Ox South.

11 Comments

  1. Jim Lowry on February 20, 2024 at 12:46 pm

    Shady business dealing without informing the public, will have unauthorized serving of beer to potential minors, owner won’t oversee the sale of beer and rely on vendors chasing a buck. Parking is scarce as it is, 300 people trying to park during baseball season by Hale park seems like a disater. Say no thanks we need more resources not a building to party at in clearing.



    • Jeff Pec on February 20, 2024 at 3:03 pm

      Idk I’d kind of like a building to party in 🤷🏻‍♂️



    • G Suarez on February 20, 2024 at 5:25 pm

      Please stop with the fear mongering. A lot of the same concerns were raised when the Aldi was coming to the neighborhood. None of the fears came to fruition. It brought jobs and convenience.

      Folks in the neighborhood are always asking for banquet halls in the area, this would be welcomed.



  2. Michelle on February 20, 2024 at 3:59 pm

    I lived across the street from the 47th St. location for years under the old owner, and two years under the owner in question. There was never any problems. Banquet halls don’t get rowdy like bars. Parking was an issue sometimes and that 47th location has two medium sized lots. People still parked in the street and we had nowhere to park st night sometimes.



    • Manny on February 21, 2024 at 10:24 pm

      I will be present for the next meeting. I don’t think we are addressing the elephant in the room here. Why another banquet hall on 63rd st that will draw in people from other areas outside of the community? We have 3 halls already on 63rd Street. Bella Luna on 63rd and Meade, we have Juanitas banquet hall over by Stunouds, and then there is Ziggys that rents out there space as well. From my experience living on 63rd Street, I’ve seen plenty of littering, drinking, smoking and disorderly conduct due to these places. I for one think what would be more beneficial for the community? I can say that having the park nearby, it would make sense to have that location be more geared towards something the community can actually benefit from. That banquet hall will not bring jobs to the community. Good luck thinking that they will cater from local restaurants. The only businesses that will benefit from this will be the bars and 7/11 for the booze that will be drunk outside of the banquet hall. Let’s not pretend and think that this hall will not have riff raff coming in from other areas.



  3. Lauren Polenske on February 20, 2024 at 4:43 pm

    Prior to the Pandemic, the parking lot often was full. We Lost the VFW on 63rd and Harlem which was utilized by many people in the neighborhood. People don’t want housing. People don’t want a banquet hall. What other options are there? Apparently the neighborhood parking issues justify Residential Only Permit Parking.



    • Joe S on February 20, 2024 at 10:33 pm

      Permit parking only keeps the parks from being utilized like they should be. I live in Garfield Ridge and now everyone I want to park somewhere I have to find some with a temp permit, we all pay the same taxes, the streets are public. Almost every house in Garfield ridge has a garage, start using them, and if you have 15 people in your home, use the street.



  4. Steve on February 20, 2024 at 4:58 pm

    Sorry, I’m more concerned with the frequency of stalled trains along 60th street. Constantly blocking Austin and Narragansett. Nobody cares until there is a medical emergency and help can’t get to you!



    • Joe S on February 20, 2024 at 10:35 pm

      Wrong complaint area.



  5. Susan Basko on February 20, 2024 at 6:51 pm

    What is the stated capacity of 300 persons for the proposed banquet hall based on? That seems way more people that would legally be allowed in the space available. Also, I have never heard of a banquet hall that does not have its own kitchen or its own liquor License and service. A Banquet Hall fits under this Section of the Zoning law:

    17-17-0104-L Entertainment and Spectator Sports. Provision of cultural, entertainment, athletic, and other events to spectators. The following are spectator sports and entertainment use types:
    1. Inter-Track or Sports Wagering Facility. A facility other than a race track at which wagering is conducted: (i) with respect to the outcome of a simultaneously televised horse race taking place at an Illinois race track or horse races of national or international interest held at race tracks in other states or countries, or (ii) with respect to the outcome of a professional sport or athletic event, a collegiate sport or athletic event, a motor race event, or other event or competition of skill upon which wagering is permitted under the Sports Wagering Act.
    2. Small Venue. Entertainment and spectator sports establishments, other than Inter-track Wagering Facilities, conducted within an enclosed building with a capacity of no more than 149 persons. Typical uses include small theaters and meeting or banquet halls.
    3. Medium Venue. Entertainment and spectator sports establishments, other than Inter-track Wagering Facilities, conducted within an enclosed building with a capacity of more than 149 and fewer than 1,000 persons. Typical uses include theaters and meeting or banquet halls.
    4. Large Venue. Entertainment and spectator sports establishments, other than Inter-track Wagering Facilities, with a capacity of 1,000 persons or more. Typical uses include large theaters, cinemas and meeting or banquet halls.

    A MEDIUM Entertainment VENUE IS NOT REQUIRED TO BE A PLANNED DEVELOPMENT. ONLY VENUES WITH CAPACITY OF 1000 OR MORE ARE required to be PLANNED DEVELOPMENTS. // A medium size banquet hall would be permitted in these zones: B3, C1, C2, C3. The required parking for a banquet hall is 1 space per 10 person capacity.

    The MAIN things I question are: 1) What is the 300 capacity based on? That seems extremely high for that building. 2) Yes, the city allows one parking space for every 10 people, but where will the rest of the cars park for guests as well as employees? 3) Is it actually a banquet hall if it has no food preparation and no alcohol licensing? Maybe it is, I do not know. But food and alcohol load-in also takes many parking spaces, makes a lot of noise. Catering break down after events is very noisy and often goes hours after an event. Also if a place is not supplying its own food or alcohol, there seems to be little accountability.
    THE PLUS SIDE is that if this man has been successfully running several banquet halls already, then he will probably succeed at running one in this space on 63rd Street.



  6. E.A. on February 20, 2024 at 10:39 pm

    Our CAPS meeting spent almost an hour complaining about parking for a banquet hall that’s always been a banquet hall but not one single word about the arson that happened in our neighborhood?! Priorities people.



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