The year-round patio dining, a practice that proliferated during the early years of the pandemic, may become a permanent fixture in Chicago’s hospitality industry under a proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The original program — designed to help restaurants earn revenue while requirements like indoor dining bans and caps on dining room capacity were in place — is set to expire at the end of the year.
Under the mayor’s proposed ordinance, the city would indefinitely allow expanded outdoor dining for those with outdoor dining street permits that would be valid from May 1 through October 31. The city would allow restaurants and bars to “operate in curb lanes where the adjacent sidewalk is not wide enough to accommodate a sidewalk cafe,” according to a news release. Groups of three or more businesses will be allowed to hold full street closures.
Neighborhood residents and officials beyond Downtown Chicago have also shown a sustained interest in pedestrian-friendly outdoor spaces. Andersonville residents have lent significant support to a plan for a car-free area at Catalpa Avenue between Clark Street and Ashland Avenue, according to Block Club Chicago. But as Chicagoans know, even the best-laid plans may not come to fruition. But that doesn’t mean restaurants will get additional patio space, as the plan for Asia on Argyle demonstrated.
Federal court fines Grace’s ex-owner for misappropriated funds
A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found that Chicago restaurateur Michael Olszewski, owner of Aikana in the West Loop and shuttered Michelin-starred spots Yugen and Grace, misappropriated funds from his real estate company’s pension and profit-sharing plans. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has ordered Olszewski to pay out $12,500 into the profit-sharing plan and reallocate more than $400,000 to participants and beneficiaries, according to a news release.
Far-right protests continue at UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills
UpRising Bakery and Cafe, the suburban Chicago bakery targeted by far-right activists over family-friendly drag brunch events, has continued to see protests from anti-LGBTQ extremists months after a vandal was arrested for allegedly causing significant damage to the bakery, according to independent news collective Chicago Free Media. In late July, police arrested 24-year-old Joseph I. Collins of Alsip, charging him with felony hate crime and criminal damage to property. Collins has ties to the Proud Boys, a hate group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center that was involved in the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C.
QAnon-affiliated group Let Kids Be Kids is here.— chicagofreemedia (@chifreemedia) September 24, 2022
Group prayer time. They've set up some "JESUS IS KING" flags on the side of the road. pic.twitter.com/wrDH6xUj0U
Abortion-funding efforts continue at Chicago restaurants and bars
A month-long series of restaurant and bar-led fundraisers for the Chicago Abortion Fund will wrap up on Thursday, September 29 with a donation special at Antique Taco in Wicker Park and Bridgeport, the fund announced on Instagram. Mention the fundraiser to the cashier to donate 10 percent of the total to the local nonprofit, which provides financial, emotional, and strategic support to patients in Chicago and across the Midwest at large.