LAKEVIEW — The city’s first outdoor dining program, which closed a stretch of Broadway in June so restaurants could expand their patio seating into the street, is set to continue through September, according to local leaders.
But businesses need help footing the costs.
Maureen Martino, executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, said the “Dine Out on Broadway” program was renewed for one weekend each month through September after its pilot helped restaurants make up some of the financial loss caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The chamber is rolling out a second outdoor dining program next weekend for restaurants along Sheffield Avenue from Belmont to School Street, Martino said.
“Our businesses have been accumulating debt and some not able to pay rent after months of lost income,” Martino said. “This program gives them a little bit of cashflow to start filling that hole.”
Martino said she hopes both dining programs can be offered more regularly, but they can cost as much as $20,000 a weekend to operate. Right now, restaurants have to pay a $100–$400 fee to participate, which helps defray those costs.
“We’re looking for sponsors and donors who can help us help restaurants,” Martino said. “The longevity of these programs depend on how much support they get.”
Supporting the individual restaurants also will help offset their participation fees and generate more profit from outdoor dining. To help with that, the Lakeview East Chamber released a comprehensive dining guide for the area, highlighting all options from fine dining to grab-and-go restaurants, Martino said.
“We really want to encourage people to patronize or order online from our local businesses,” Martino said. “You can also order to-go, buy gift cards, leave reviews online and spread the word when you find a restaurant you really like.”
“Dine Out on Broadway” runs along Broadway between Belmont to Diversey on July 24–26, Aug. 7–9 and Sept. 11–13. Hours of operation are:
- 12 noon to 10 p.m. Fridays;
- 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays;
- 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
“Dine Out On Sheffield” runs July 31–Aug. 1 from noon to 10 p.m., and on Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Greg Shuff, owner of DryHop Brewers at 3115 N. Broadway and the adjacent wood-fire pizza joint Roebucks, said his restaurants have had a “very dramatic and necessary increase in revenue” thanks to the program and neighbors’ support.
The outdoor dining increases his restaurants’ seating capacity from 15 tables inside to an additional 25 outside. He estimated it’s doubled their weekend revenue.
Shuff said his business has mostly broken even, but the summer is when restaurants need to get ahead before winter weather closes their patios.
“I’m very worried about what’s going to happen in September after Labor Day,” Shuff said. “It’s hard enough to generate profit in the winter during any year.”
More Outdoor Dining in Lakeview:
Two other outdoor dining spots are returning to West Lakeview this weekend, creating shared spaces where customers can enjoy to-go orders from nearby restaurants.
The “Dine Out West Lakeview” program creates one outdoor dining hall along Cornelia Avenue just east of Southport Avenue. Its hours will be:
- 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday;
- 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and
- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The second dining area will pop up on North Paulina Street between Roscoe and Henderson streets:
- 6 to 10 p.m. Friday;
- 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday; and
- 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
If a restaurant’s patio and indoor seating is full, customers can order to-go and eat in one of these enclosed spaces, which will have about 30 tables spread at least 6 feet apart, said Carisa Marconet, events and marketing director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.
Some funding for the program comes from Special Service Area 27, but it will mostly be supported by sponsorships and tax-deductible donations. Visitors are also encouraged to leave a $10 donation if they use the space.
Lincoln Park’s Outdoor Dining:
The “Feast on Lincoln” program, which allows restaurants to serve meals on Lincoln Avenue between Wrightwood and Fullerton avenues, returns this weekend in Lincoln Park.
Lincoln Avenue’s outdoor dining will return 4-11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday. It will run for the next four weekends, weather permitting, according to Robin Hammond, vice president of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce.
Participating restaurants include:
- Broken English Taco Pub, 2576 N. Lincoln Ave.
- DogHaus Biergarten, 2464 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Galit, 2429 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Hops & Curds, 2470 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Lincoln Station, 2432 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Millie’s Supper Club, 2438 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Pita Pit, 2404 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Printer’s Row Coffee Co., 2482 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Prost!, 2566 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Takito Street, 2423 N. Lincoln Ave.
- The Bagelers CoffeeHouse, 2461 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tables will be spread out at least 6 feet apart to comply with social distancing guidelines, face coverings are required when people aren’t eating and appropriate sanitation guidelines will be enforced, Hammond said.
The Lincoln Park area has been considered a hotspot for new COVID-19 cases among young adults, so Ald. Michele Smith has previously warned customers to “get sharp” and businesses to “get smart about enforcing rules.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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