Chicago’s open roads initiative kicks off Friday on Broadway Street in Lakeview, part of the “Make Way For Diners” program which intends to close six major streets to make room for restaurant tables and chairs. Though outdoor dining was allowed to begin last week, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce executive director Maureen Martino said at the time that the city would probably push open roads’s pilot program to mid-June.
The program’s goal is to help restaurant serve customers as the city recovers from COVID-19. Health experts remain uneasy about indoor dining. There are 32 are participating restaurants so far in Lakeview. These include chicken wing destination Crisp, vegetarian and vegan cafe Fancy Plants, and sustainable Mexican restaurant Chilam Billam. Some Lakeview bars that serve food are also joining in, like DryHop Brewers, which is combining its menu with sister spot Roebuck Pizza, and Wilde Bar & Restaurant.
Lakeview’s weekends-only program closes the street for pedestrian traffic from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on Broadway between Belmont Avenue and Diversey Parkway. It’s designed to remedy some of the strain coronavirus prevention efforts have placed on restaurants, creating more room for customers to socially distance while supporting the city’s hospitality industry during its brief and vital warm-weather months.
Other Chicago neighborhoods plan to close streets for the program as well. These include Chatham (75th Street), Gold Coast (Rush Street), Little Italy (Taylor Street), Little Village (26th Street), West Loop (Randolph Street). Other areas could be added.
And in other news...
- The Chicago Riverwalk will be open Friday for the first time since March, but don’t expect restaurants to be ready for customers. The city made the announcement Thursday, but the riverwalk will be open with restrictions: folks will have to mask up and maintain social distancing, the Tribune reports. Some of the restaurants on the riverwalk will require reservations. A rep for the Northman (a cider-focused brewpub) tells Eater Chicago they hope to open next week as it prepares. Still, other spots will have walk-up service.
- Chicago police officers popped popcorn, drank coffee, and lounged in U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s Fuller Park campaign offices as people looted and vandalized neighboring stores nearly two weeks ago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in an unusual press conference Thursday. Flanked by acting police Superintendent David Brown, Lightfoot apologized to Rush, a longtime civil rights leader, and displayed still images pulled from a surveillance video that showed 13 officers hanging out inside Rush’s offices around 1 a.m. on June 1. Rush spoke as well, expressing disappointment with the officers in question and thanking Lightfoot for her apology. “They had the unmitigated gall to pop my popcorn in my microwave,” Rush said. Lightfoot, Brown, and other police officials condemned the officers’s inaction, but did not provide specific details about what will happen to those who participated. For local residents and business owners, the incident underscores what many already believed, according to Block Club Chicago — that police failed to protect South and West Side neighborhoods during unrest following the death of George Floyd.
- A Chicago couple plan to breathe new life into a 113-year-old South Side tavern that was once a Schlitz tied house at 9401 S. Ewing Avenue, Block Club reported. The site has been recommended for historic preservation status, and now awaits approval from the city council to become an official landmark. Owners Mike Medina and Laura Coffey Medina plan to open a neighborhood tavern with an adjoining yard for games like bocce ball.