By Meredith Barack

CHICAGO (CBS) — A new curfew to crack down on rowdy crowds in Forest Park aims to stop out of control crowds, but business owners say it is costing them money. The new ordinance was put in place after residents complained of increased crime, public urination, crowds causing a ruckus outside bars, safety concerns, and police fearing for their own safety.

As of Sunday night last call comes a lot sooner for bars and restaurants in Forest Park — 11 p.m.

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Some business owners are worried about how long this could last and, more importantly, their bottom lines.

“We do need to hit the reset button. Things have gotten crazy,” said Ted Hosty, owner of Old School Tavern and Grill. 

His restaurant is not on Madison Street, but it is still being affected by the wild crowds and crime happening there. For 30 days restaurants restaurants in Forest Park, no matter their location, will have to close at 11 p.m.

Bars and taverns like Pioneer Tap, which sits across the street from Hosty’s restaurant, could have to do the same until Labor Day.

“Definitely hurt the bottom line, 100%,” said Pioneer Tap Manager Brandon Wilkes.

Both are worried about what this could mean for their businesses after an already difficult year.

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“For the average business that’s going through it, at least 30 to 40% drop in sales,” said Hosty.

Forest Park Chief of Police Tom Aftanas said the village’s decision to enforce a curfew comes after a record number of citations have been issued to bars along Madison Street.

“In March and April of this year we have issued 75 local ordinance citations,” he said.

Last year, they didn’t issue any because of the pandemic. Only 15 citations were issued in all of 2019. 

They said what is happening has gone beyond a safety issue for police officers and is now impacting bar employees, other bar patrons, as well as anybody just walking down the street.

“Loud noise, loud music, public urination, fighting,” said Aftanas.

This past weekend, there were no major issues despite crowds and no curfew in effect, but the chief said they cannot guarantee every weekend will be that way.

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“We want all of our businesses to succeed. We just want it to be safe,” he said.

Meredith Barack