Chicago will close five more city streets this weekend to create additional space for outdoor diners and give struggling restaurants a boost, according to a news release from Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Chinatown, Little Italy, Edison Park, Grand Crossing, and Andersonville will join the city’s “Make Way” program after a test round in Lakeview last weekend.
Sidewalk patios can be limited and hard to come by, so the city’s open streets initiative gives restaurants without outdoor seating a chance to serve more customers in a less-risky space. Businesses are also allowed serve customers in 30 local parking lots for up to 180 days, and fees for sidewalk cafes have been reduced by 75 percent (applied retroactively to all 2020 permits). The open streets program is temporary, but there’s no indication yet how long it will run
The 32 participating Lakeview restaurants deployed a range of crowd control tactics during their first foray into street dining. A number of establishments, including contemporary Mexican spot Chilam Balam, required reservations. There were plenty of folks walking around with masks on Saturday, but far fewer were seen in larger crowds on Sunday. Despite the dip in face covering usage, many restaurants seem to be abiding by the rules to keep customers and staff safe, not to mention avoid fines that could reach $10,000.
Lightfoot has now targeted Friday as the start date for allowing limited indoor dining, but health experts have expressed skepticism about how closely customers will adhere to social distancing and mask rules.
In the meantime, below is a list of the new street closures, according to the mayor’s office:
- Balmoral Street will be closed on both sides of Clark Street.
- Chinatown Square will be closed — adjacent to Archer Avenue — from Wentworth Avenue to Princeton Avenue.
- Taylor Street will be closed from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue.
- Oliphant Avenue will be closed from Northwest Highway to the first alley to the north.
- 75th Street will have sidewalk dining areas from Indiana Avenue to Calumet Avenue.