McHenry County Republican Party Chairman Sandra Salgado sent an email saying,
In case you haven’t heard Happy Hour is back!
Please join Rep. Barbara Wheeler this Thursday at Marzano’s in McHenry at one of the first official Happy Hours under the recently signed legislation!
Salgado linked to this communication from State Rep. Barb Wheeler:
No matter what the General Assembly, its leadership,or the Governor try to do, nothing seems to be getting done to fix the problem. As reforms important as pensions and workmen’s comp linger in the corners of the conversation of the fiscal crisis, businesses and taxpayers are leaving the state.
There are however, a few good things occurring for some businesses.
Specifically, the Governor signed Senate Bill 398, among other things, this bill brought back the Happy Hour.
In 1989 happy hour was banned from restaurants and bars. Some report, restaurant and bar owners lost up to 20 percent their profits when the state banned it.
Obviously the major concern with the happy hour concept is that more people will drink and drive under the influence.
According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2013, 317 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, representing 32 percent of the crash fatalities in Illinois.
In 1988, the year before the happy hour ban went into effect, 912, or 49.6 percent fatal crashes in Illinois were alcohol-related.
It is apparent that stricter drinking driving laws, penalties and public education regarding alcohol has curtailed a deadly issue that was spinning out of control.
Local DUI lawyer and senior partner of the Criminal Defense Law Firm, Ed Donahue of Donahue and Walsh, noted,
“The return of the happy hour doesn’t give people license to act irresponsibly. People have a responsibility to follow the law. Being under the influence of any kind of intoxicant is against the law. More importantly, it is a danger to the public and to themselves.”
Because of the desire not to take steps backwards in the fight against drinking and driving, the bill contains that the restaurant and bar owner abide very strict rules about employee training and include heavy fines for noncompliance of the law.
Restaurant owner, Peter Kalantzis of Marzano’s of McHenry has been watching the development of SB 398 since it was first filed. It was signed by Governor Rauner on July 15.
In preparation of its signing, Mr. Kalantzis has prepared one of the first Happy Hours Opening in the state.
He complied with the 7 day public notification rule, proper training for his employees, and welcomes everyone to Opening Day, Thursday, July 23, 3-6pm at his restaurant Marzano’s Wood Fired Italian in McHenry. http://marzanositalian.com/mobile/
There is speculation that some of the chief sponsors of the bill and some of governor staff will be at the opening day, as well.
Despite the controversy in the return of happy hour the Illinois Restaurant Association is in full favor of the bill and its restrictions that hopefully will maintain the safety of the patrons.