UPTOWN — Plastic igloos installed along Uptown’s Asia on Argyle district are aiming to winterize the area’s new people spaces and help businesses survive another pandemic winter.
Ten igloos are being installed as part of the “Winter on Argyle” program, with eight already placed as of Wednesday. The igloos are stationed outside local businesses, hoping to give them extra space for outdoor dining during the cold months.
Two more of the structures will be installed this week, said Justin Weidl, director of neighborhood services for chamber group Uptown United.
The igloos help winterize Argyle’s Chicago Alfresco program, the city sponsored outdoor space meant to provide more public gathering areas during the pandemic. The new space, which includes colorful furniture and decor along Argyle, debuted in October as the outdoor dining season was coming to a close.
A second grant from the city allowed for the winterization effort, Weidl said.
With the grant, Uptown United bought the “Hypedomes,” the brand name for the plastic shelters.
“The plaza space already exists but it wouldn’t be able to function without being winterized,” he said. “We wanted to do something that’s eye catching and interesting, do something special for Argyle.”
The igloos are meant to serve single parties, and they utilize furniture bought as part of the Alfresco program. The igloos aren’t heated, but local businesses have the option of adding heaters.
With coronavirus again surging and a new city order requiring vaccination to be in restaurants and other public places, businesses will again have to get creative to keep customers this winter, Weidl said.
Last year, many of the mom-and-pop restaurants along Argyle turned to take-out only. Some Argyle business may opt for take-out only instead of trying to enforce the vaccine mandate for indoor dining, Weidl said. That makes the outdoor dining stations even more or a necessity.
The idea is that people can still visit Argyle if they order take-out and eat in the igloos.
The igloos will remain up through the winter and into the spring. They have been placed next to businesses who have signed on to care for them, but the igloos are not for any restaurant’s exclusive use, Weidl said.
“Anything we’re trying to do to help the businesses on Argyle, we’re trying,” Weidl said.
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