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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Outdoor Dining Comes To 71st Street Right As Fall Hits — But Curbside Patios Will Return And Expand Next Year, Officials Say

"We don’t have many dine-in restaurants in South Shore," so new patios will help fill that gap by allowing on-site dining at takeout restaurants, the South Shore Chamber's director said.

Patrons celebrate the ribbon-cutting of outdoor patios in South Shore Sept. 21 outside Give Me Some Sugah Bakery and Surf's Up South Shore. The patio and several others on 71st Street opened last week under the city's Make Way for People program.
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SOUTH SHORE — Colorful patios have opened in front of restaurants along 71st Street in South Shore, and business leaders said they hope weather will allow the patios to stay open for a while after delays in their rollout.

Wooden curbside plazas with seating, painted by local artist Damon Lamar Reed, debuted outside South Shore restaurants last week through the transportation department’s Make Way for People program.

The participating businesses are Slab BBQ, 1918 E. 71st St.; Italian Fiesta Pizzeria, 1919 E. 71st St.; Give Me Some Sugah Bakery, 2234 E. 71st St.; and Surf’s Up South Shore, 2236 E. 71st St.

“Weather permitting, the alfresco dining experience will run through the fall months, and hopefully we can get them back for the summer months,” Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said at her ward meeting Tuesday.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The patio in front of Slab BBQ, 1918 E. 71st St. in South Shore, Thursday morning. The 71st Street patios, which feature planters and wooden tables, were painted by Damon Lamar Reed, Trice said.
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Tonya Trice, the South Shore Chamber’s executive director and co-owner of Slab BBQ, cuts the ribbon on South Shore’s outdoor dining program through the city’s Make Way for People initiative Sept. 21.

The South Shore Chamber received a $50,000 grant from Choose Chicago for the project, said Tonya Trice, executive director of the South Shore Chamber and co-owner of Slab BBQ. She expects the patios to be open through the end of October, she said.

“We don’t have many dine-in restaurants in South Shore,” so the patios give “many residents an opportunity to go and enjoy one of their favorite carryout restaurants and enjoy the nice Chicago weather right here in the South Shore community,” Trice said.

Mary Jane Cafe, 7112 S. Yates Blvd., also plans to participate in the future but faced difficulties this year as its platform would be on private property and organizers were unable to find outdoor furnishings “this late in the season,” Trice said.

Officials plan to bring the 71st Street patios back next year and expand to the 75th Street and Exchange Avenue corridors, including Majani, Chef Sara’s Cafe and the Quarry Event Center, Trice said.

“Absolutely, we want this to be a continuing program every summer along 71st Street, and we hope to expand to the other corridors next summer,” Trice said.

The patios opened right as chilly fall weather started to set in. Permits weren’t granted for the project until mid-August, after which Choose Chicago issued its grant funding, Trice said.

“I think had we been able to roll it out a little earlier, numbers [of visitors] would’ve been a little greater, but I’m happy with what I’m seeing,” Trice said. “Talking to patrons of these restaurants, they enjoy sitting in front of them and taking in the weather.”

The city’s Chicago Alfresco program, a similar initiative to create more outdoor public space, also faced delays as it was rolled out in Uptown, Humboldt Park, Rogers Park and other neighborhoods last year.

Trice encouraged visitors to eat at the restaurants and patios along 71st Street during the Connect South Shore festival, which is Oct. 15-16 at the former Shore Bank parking lot, 7001-7037 S. Jeffery Blvd.

“I think that it adds a great component to other community beautification projects that have taken place on 71st Street,” Trice said.

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