Restaurant Claims City Racial Bias With Licensing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A River North restaurant says it was shut down one of its busiest nights, and claims it's being hassled by the city because it attracts a mostly-black clientele. NBC 5's Rob Elgas reports. (Published Friday, Apr 18, 2014)

    A River North restaurant says it was shut down on one of its busiest nights, and claims it's being hassled by the city because it attracts a mostly-black clientele.

    Patrons at Nouveau Tavern were escorted out by police on April 11 because city official said the restaurant's licenses were not valid.

    "If our license was out of whack and expired and all the things people were saying, we wouldn't have been able to open right back up monday," restaurant owner Marsette Mangum said.

    Mangum feels that in his neighborhood full of high-rise condos and almost exclusively white-owned restaurants, something else is at play.

    "Anytime in 2014 if we're saying the first black anything, the first Latino anything, the first Asian anything, there's a problem," Mangum said.

    The Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection issued a statement saying the "action was taken with prior consultation of the Local Liquor Commissioner," and was "not racially motivated."

    Chicago Police also released a statement: "When we become aware that an establishment is serving liquor without a license immediate action is taken."

    Mangum says he wants to work with neighbors who've complained of loud music and drunk people leaving late at night. He says his staff has been cleaning the street every weekend night.

    "I do want to do a sit down with some of the people, definitely hear their concerns in a controlled, responsible setting, let them know some of my concerns and let them know I'm a friend, not a foe," Mangum said.