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How Will We Dine Outside This Winter? From Igloos To Shipping Crates, City Shares Your Ideas

More than 600 ideas were submitted to the Chicago Winter Design Challenge to help restaurants and bars serve people through the chilly months.

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CHICAGO — People submitted more than 600 ideas for a contest about how Chicagoans can have outdoor dining this winter.

The ideas for the Chicago Winter Design Challenge cover everything from making igloos to putting out heated tables and hosting a winter version of Taste of Chicago. Local restaurants and community members will review the 643 submitted ideas and choose three winners, who will be announced in October.

The winners will each get $5,000 in cash — and they’ll have a chance to test their idea at restaurants and bars in the city.

Officials hope the ideas can help restaurants and bars stay afloat this winter. Many have already closed or are struggling due to the pandemic; even now that they’re reopened, they face strict indoor capacity limits.

Due to those restrictions, many places have opened or expanded their outdoor seating options. But it will be harder to offer those during Chicago’s famously cold, snowy winters, which could put another strain on businesses.

The ideas submitted to the contest offer solutions, though: Many people suggested finding ways to create small, heated rooms around outside diners with designs similar to greenhouses and igloos. Other applicants suggested heating lamps or even heated tables.

Other ideas were focused more on raising interest in outdoor dining. One person suggested creating a reward app where diners would get points that turn into cash for eating at Chicago restaurants; another person said the city could host Chill with Taste, a winterized form of Taste of Chicago, to get people excited about eating out during the colder months.

Check out all of the submissions here.

Some of the ideas:

Description: Winter Layers, An Outdoor Dining Toolkit: A simple, adaptable solution based upon the layering of off-grid heating techniques with vibrant, interest-generating design.

Description: Pure Clove: The organic, stand-alone form of the “Pure Clove” encompasses diners in an intimate cocoon while allowing natural ventilation & insulation.

Description: Umbrella shelters: By creating simple fabric panels and interlocking magnetic connections, any standard patio umbrella can be converted into a private shelter.

Description: Inflatable Igloo Dining: Winter dining in a warm igloo with constant air circulation.

Description: Dining Hives: Easy to assemble/implement, affordable hexagonal wall structures designed to separate dining areas while providing maximum seating capacity.

Description: Chicago World’s Fair 2.020: A “Navy Pier”-type Ferris Wheel BUT laid down so the customers in each vestibule can experience a new restaurant with a turn of the wheel.

Description: Modified Shipping Container – Outdoor Dining: The attached design utilizes the easily transported shipping container as a module to house modifiable dining spaces.

Description: FireTable: The FireTable integrates the warmth, romance, and experience of sitting around a campfire with outdoor dining.

Description: Rotating restaurants in Chicago’s Parks: Use Chicago’s parks to host city-wide dining halls that use community-based and rotating restaurants, bringing citizens to new neighborhoods.

Read all of Block Club’s coverage on outdoor dining here

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