Today, restaurants outside of Chicago — including those in the suburbs — will reopen for outdoor dining. It’s the first time waitstaff has tended to customers since March 17 in Illinois. Suburban restaurants, like The Barn Steakhouse in Evanston, will welcome diners back and the Tribune has a new 52 list of suburban restaurants reopening today.
Chicago will wait until Wednesday for outdoor dining and city officials and restaurant owners are preparing. One aspect that needs to be cleared up is alcohol sales. The city placed a 9 p.m. curfew on booze sales in early April to encourage residents to stay at home. Restaurant owners that reopen Wednesday would like that window to be extended. Alcohol can be a big revenue stream for restaurants, as demonstrated by the push to legalize to-go cocktails in Illinois. A city spokesperson says they’re looking into allowing alcohol sales beyond 9 p.m.: “the city is always exploring efforts to make potential amendments to the public health order as Chicago begins to reopen,” a city statement reads.
The city should also make an announcement today about open roads. Block Club Chicago caught early wind of several North Side roadways that will be closed off. Open roads would allow restaurants to set up tables and seating to increase capacity. Illinois Restaurant Association CEO & President Sam Toia tells the Sun-Times that he has three suggestions for open roads: 75th Street in Chatham (home of Lem’s Bar-B-Q, Soul Vegetarian, and 5 Loaves Eatery), 26th Street in Little Village (home of Nuevo Leon, Doña Torta, El Milagro and various street vendors; read Fooditor’s guide to the strip), and 53rd Street in Hyde Park (home of Valois, Virtue, and Soul Shack). A source tells Eater Chicago that the Chicago Cubs are working with the city to make an open road at Clark and Addison near Wrigley Field.
Restaurants owners are still figuring out if they will open. A spokesperson for One Off Hospitality Group says Big Star in Wicker Park will reopen its popular patio. Quartino in River North is also preparing to reopen, as is the Gringo in West Town. These restaurant owners will have a very busy weekend trying to contact staff and figuring out the city and state’s rules as they gear up for Wednesday. The next question will be: will customers show up?
Meanwhile, if you know of a Chicago restaurant that’s opening on Wednesday, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
And in other news...
- Alinea Group and Tock co-founder Nick Kokonas was a guest on the Eater’s Digest podcast. Kokonas speaks about Tock’s well-documented pivot from reservations to takeout and delivery ordering, and more.
- The Chicago Reader has collaborated with celebrated local chefs like Ethan Lim (Hermosa), Yolanda Castillo (Garifuna Flava), and Jimmy Papadopoulos (Bellemore) to create Reader Recipes: Chicago Cooks and Drinks at Home. Edited by Reader food critic and senior writer Mike Sula and co-editor-in-chief Karen Hawkins, the collection of 80 recipes is available as a bound book ($55 with a digital version) or PDF ($30). Fifteen percent of sales will go to the Comp Tab Relief Fund, a joint endeavor by hospitality worker organizations Support Staff and Pilot Light that offers financial aid and resources to industry members in need.
- Organizers have canceled the Edgewater Farmers Market for the season because of concerns over COVID-19, according to the market’s website. It appears, however that residents will have other options: both the Andersonville Farmers Market and Rogers Park’s Glenwood Farmers Market are slated to start in mid-June.