CHICAGO — Dining in the street is coming to six Chicago neighborhoods through a pilot program, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday.
In addition to open streets for pedestrians and cyclists, which Block Club reported Wednesday, the city is closing thru traffic on certain streets in commercial corridors to allow restaurants to spread out tables for outdoor dining.
The following streets are part of the pilot program:
Chatham: 75th Street from Calumet Avenue to Indiana Avenue
Lakeview: Broadway from Belmont Avenue to Diversey Parkway
Little Village: 26th Street from Central Park to Harding Avenue
Rush & Division: Rush Street from Oak Street to Cedar Street
Little Italy: Taylor Street from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue
West Loop: Randolph Street from Expressway no further than Elizabeth Street
These areas were selected based on the expected impact to traffic and proximity to local businesses and residents for ease of walking and biking, the mayor said.
When the city enters Phase 3 next week, the streets will be closed to thru traffic during specified hours and restaurants will be allowed to move tables and chairs into the streets.
“Closing down streets to allow expanded outdoor dining in Chicago’s neighborhoods is an innovative measure to help reopen our economy,” said Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “This announcement today is not a solution for every restaurant in Chicago, but it is another pragmatic and crucial step forward in the path to recovery.”
The move is meant to help restaurants, which have been badly hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. The state still prohibits in-restaurant dining, but it started allowing outdoor dining Friday.
But many restaurants were facing a conundrum: They don’t have patios or other spots to eat, but they need to reopen to make it through the pandemic and so their employees can provide for their families.
The city said chambers of commerce, special service areas, business associations and restaurants in groups of three or more can visit the city website to submit an application for the Expanded Outdoor Dining program starting Monday.
Other streets may soon open to restaurants, as well.
The city is also trying to speed up sidewalk cafe permits for individual restaurants. Rosa Escareno, commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said the city agency’s staff are processing permits for sidewalks cafes as quickly as they can to provide relief to those restaurants. They’ve issued nearly 400 so far and are processing another 400.
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