Three new restaurant/bars that will offer sandwiches, beer, wine -- and the added attraction of video poker -- won Joliet City Council approval Monday.
Betty's Bistro, with locations at 3068 Caton Farm Road and 2310 Route 59, and Penny's Place, in the same 2410 W. Jefferson St. strip mall as Panda Express, could be open by this summer, depending on how quickly the Illinois Gaming Commission awards the licenses, attorney Michael Hansen said.
Another three could be open by year's end, he added.
All six will be part of the Blackhawk Restaurant Group of Oak Brook, which is part of an Oregon-based company that specializes in restaurant/bar/video gaming enterprises, said Jim Murphy, Joliet deputy liquor commissioner.
"(These types of businesses) are all over the country in states that allow video poker," Murphy said.
The locations are small, about 1,400 to 1,800 square feet, and sell fresh sandwiches, such as paninis, as well as beer and wine. Each have five video poker machines.
The businesses strive to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to women, as opposed to more traditional bars -- especially sports bars -- that tend to skew more towards a male audience, Hansen said.
"These people really think that this is a market where this will take off," he said.
Mayor Tom Giarrante, who serves as the city's liquor commissioner, added that new businesses wanting to offer video poker and gaming will be allowed only in areas where they won't be competing with existing bars and restaurants.
"We are taking care of (established businesses)," Giarrante said.