JT’s Bourbon Street Grille owner upset with city after request to stay open past midnight on New Year’s Eve denied
Online Staff Report
Anthony Foreman, owner of JT’s Bourbon Street Grille at 1407 N. Main St., Rockford, is upset with the city after being told his business could not stay open past midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Foreman said he was given a verbal agreement for the restaurant and bar to stay open until 2 a.m., Jan. 1, after a Dec. 20 meeting with Rockford aldermen and a city attorney. However, he said he was hand-delivered a letter from the city the following day, Dec. 21, that read as follows:
Dear Mr. Foreman,
Please be advised that upon further staff review of your request to stay open for extended hours on New Year’s Eve staff has determined that your request is denied. As such, you must operate strictly under the terms and conditions of the enclosed Agreed Order that you entered into in August of 2008. Specifically, no alcohol may be served after 11:00 p.m. and the business shall close at 12:00 midnight. City of Rockford police will conduct spot checks at JT’s Bourbon Street to ensure compliance with the enclosed Agreed Order.
Jennifer K. Cacciapaglia
A press release from JT’s Bourbon Street Grille stated, “The champagne was ordered, party favors were on the way, dresses were being purchased by the Rock City Steppers, and Anthony was exalted.
“The next morning, Mr. Foreman received the news that the mayor had overridden the Legal Department and the aldermen’s previous decision and denied the request.”
Foreman will address the issue at the Jan. 3 Rockford City Council meeting.
Foreman, a retired gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, opened JT’s Bourbon Street Grille on Good Friday, April 14, 2006. He named the business after his late father, J.T. Foreman, of Rockford.
JT’s Bourbon Street Grille has been under intense scrutiny from the city since a pair of shootings occurred near the business in 2008. The shootings were allegedly carried out by Bourbon Street patrons.
Following the shootings, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I), who also serves as liquor commissioner, revoked the liquor license issued to Foreman. A state board later overturned the mayor’s decision, downgrading the revocation to a 30-day suspension.
Foreman later reached an agreed order with the city that at the time allowed him to operate the business under certain terms, which included operating Bourbon Street as a restaurant, not as a nightclub. As such, use of Bourbon Street’s dance floor was essentially prohibited, liquor sales were to end at 11 p.m., and the kitchen was to close at midnight.
Owners of surrounding businesses have repeatedly said the restaurant and bar brought a new element of crime to the neighborhood.
Oct. 7, the Rockford Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented a special Appreciation Award to Foreman.
JT’s Bourbon Street Grille will either have to close or relocate as part of the development of the roundabout being developed at the corner of North Main and Auburn streets.
JT’s food menu includes Signature Salad (with a special blend of tomatoes, bacon, eggs and cheese), Homemade Chili, Southern Fried Catfish Fingers, Grilled or Cajun Blackened Chicken Breast Sandwich, Memphis Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich (featuring national award-winning barbecue sauce), Rib Sandwich, Southern Fried Catfish Sandwich, Homemade Caramel Cake and JT’s Award-Winning Barbecue Chicken, Pulled Pork and Rib dinner entrées served with cole slaw and cornbread.
JT’s Bourbon Street Grille can be reached at (815) 964-4400.
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