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Bottled Blonde Shut Down By City On New Year’s Eve For Overcrowding, Police Say

The embattled River North restaurant was cited and forced to close for the night.

Outside the Bottled Blonde in River North.
David Matthews/DNAinfo
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DOWNTOWN — The Bottled Blonde, a controversial River North restaurant, was among three spots that got busted for being overcrowded on New Year’s Eve, officials said.

The restaurant — which is fighting to keep its liquor license as the city has tried repeatedly to yank it away — had 450 people inside of it when Fire Department officials did a count during New Year’s Eve celebrations, according to a Chicago Police Department report. Its occupancy is only supposed to hit 354 people, according to the report.

The Bottled Blonde, 504 N. Wells St., was cited and its manager was told to stop selling liquor at midnight and close by 12:30 a.m., according to the report.

The restaurant has faced several controversies in recent years. Neighbors have been battling to have it shuttered, arguing its patrons vomit and urinate in public, among other concerns. The city is currently fighting to take away the Bottled Blonde’s license and claims the restaurant has acted more like a nightclub than a restaurant, violating an agreement it had with the city.

The Bottled Blonde’s next day in court is Jan. 14.

Besides the Bottled Blonde, officials inspected 40 businesses during New Year’s Eve celebrations, a city spokesman said.

Two other spots were found to be overcrowded, according to reports: Vermilion at 10 W. Hubbard St. had 226 people inside but its maximum occupancy is 175, and Concrete Cowboy at 646 N. Franklin St. had 397 people inside but its maximum occupancy is 256.

Vermilion and Concrete Cowboy were cited and ordered to stop selling liquor and close, according to the reports.

“Overcrowding at this level creates a serious safety hazard at any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season when many people are celebrating,” said Fire Department Commissioner Richard C. Ford II in an emailed statement. “It is both illegal and irresponsible for restaurant and bar owners to allow too many guests into their establishments, and the City will continue to be vigilant to ensure overcrowding doesn’t threaten public safety.”

All three businesses were allowed to open as usual on Tuesday.