A longtime Austin business looking to host live events at its new venue recently secured a license from the city to move forward with that plan.

The owners of Potpourri Furniture Liquidators Inc. and Landmark Deli & Restaurant, located at 5200 W. Chicago Ave. recently appeared before the City of Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals, seeking an amusement license. The license would allow admission to be charged for entertainment and events. The zoning board granted the amusement exemption to the business, which has been in Austin for more than 35 years.

According to co-owner John Young, the business will now be able to provide a safe and fun environment the area desperately needs.

“We have always strived to meet the needs of our community, and this does precisely that,” he said. “There really isn’t much to do in this community on nights and weekends, and anytime a family or group of friends wants to do anything, they have to travel outside Austin and that’s not fair.”

Young said the goal is to have concerts for both youth and families. The next plan, he added, is to open a banquet hall for events and gatherings. According to Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who wrote a letter in support of the businesses, Austin needs this type of family-oriented venue for celebratory events.

“I felt it was important to support a locally-owned business like the Landmark Deli & Restaurant in their attempt to address this need,” she said. “I want to promote business and economic development designed to make our community a strong, diverse area where constituents can live, work and play without leaving the neighborhood.”

The alderman added that the area is experiencing a resurgence of interest by local and national businesses despite the tough economy.

Young estimated that Landmark Deli serves between 150 to 200 people weekly. He, along with co-owner Earline Ruffin, hope to expand to a 24-hour restaurant, a rarity in Austin. The eatery is currently open from 7 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon.

“We are very excited to expand our business to meet the needs of the community we serve,” Ruffin said. “We are open to any and all types of music, and celebrations of all sorts. This is something the residents of Austin have asked for and need, and we are excited.”

Young and Ruffin employ 10 people, and with the new license hope to hire more West Side residents to help meet the demand of increased business. Young wasn’t sure how quickly the application process would start but hoped to hire around a dozen new employees.

In addition to Landmark Deli & Restaurant, which serves both Mexican and American cuisines, Potpourri Furniture Liquidators Inc. sells wholesale furniture and other goods.

“The business has been very successful in the community,” Young said. “It is a nice place for families and people of all ages to come and have a good time. This license will provide us the opportunity to meet a wider range of people.”

Mitts maintained that the businesses bring choice and convenience to a community with fewer options than other neighborhoods.

“Again, as long as they live up to their stated mission to bring quality entertainment options to the neighborhood, they will be embraced and supported by residents,” she said.

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