Ba’s Jonathan Graham Takes On Highland Park’s Teetotal Party

Wine required.
Wine required. Photo: Syvwlch via Flickr

Nearly two months ago, news broke that chef James Graham was trying to endow Highland Park with its own French bistro named Ba. Highland Park Patch now reports that Graham will face his first major hurdle tomorrow evening as the owner attempts to acquire a liquor license for his new business. Typically, that’s a daunting task that can dash plans or at the very least, delay them significantly. But Graham is also facing what he describes as “anti-alcohol activists,” who are set on denying his customers a little syrah with their cassoulet. Is this the return of Carrie Nation’s hatchet or do these neighbors simply not understand the requirements of a worthy French meal?

If Graham gets his way, Ba will serve dinner until 11:00 P.M. and would like to continue on after that with a light menu served until 1:00 A.M. and beer and wine until 2:00 A.M. Naturally, that has a few residents concerned, which Graham expected, claiming that they, “will speak out against it and try to limit our hours of operation.”

So far, the owner is optimistic about his chances, but has started a small movement of friends, neighbors, and families anyway to reiterate the point that an open business provides more safety and presence on the sometimes troubled street than another dark storefront. Already Graham has one strong voice in his corner, as the Highland Park Neighborhood Council’s land use committee is likely to give their blessing to the project pending a meeting today.

Janet Dodson, a member of the committee, assures all local crusaders against noise, vice, and deranged drinking (we’re sure they don’t want an El Cid on their hands) that the project plans to be a sane one with food at the forefront and booze as a side dish. Dodson tells Patch, “This is not a liquor store–this is an application for beer and wine…it won’t be like a bar.”

Graham should have a decision by Thursday morning, at which point he is hopeful for an opening towards the end of summer. Gallic cuisine might be a rarity in Highland Park, but surely even the neighbors know a French restaurant without wine simply can’t cut it.

New French Restaurant To Seek Liquor License Next Week [Highland Park Patch]

Ba’s Jonathan Graham Takes On Highland Park’s Teetotal Party