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How Can Chicagoans Eat Outside This Winter? City Launches Contest With $5K Prize To Figure It Out

The Winter Design Challenge will ask Chicagoans to envision how there can be outdoor dining this winter to help restaurants make it through the coronavirus pandemic.

After months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, DryHop's patio opened for outdoor dining.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is launching a contest that will ask Chicagoans to envision how there can be outdoor dining this winter.

Chicago is famous for its cold, snowy winters, making patio dining all but impossible. That’ll be challenging for restaurants, which are relying on expanded outdoor service because the coronavirus pandemic has limited their indoor capacity.

But the Winter Design Challenge will ask Chicagoans to “propose innovative outdoor dining solutions that adhere to COVID-19 protocols,” according to the Mayor’s Office. Three winners will get prizes of $5,000 each.

The competition will kick off Tuesday and end Sept. 7, with the winners announced in mid-September.

“The Winter Design Challenge will use human-centered design principles to generate ideas that are tailor made to suit the needs of Chicago residents and take into account the many stakeholders involved, from customers to restaurant workers to construction trade workers,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

Many restaurants are already struggling because the pandemic forced them to close entirely for months, with owners questioning how they’ll make it through the winter with capacity limits.

More information on the competition is available online.

The competition is being held by the city, IDEO, BMO Harris Bank and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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