Outdoor patios and rooftop gardens at Chicago restaurants can stay open until midnight – when they reopen


Whenever the stay-at-home shutdown is lifted in Chicago, restaurants and bars with outdoor patios and sidewalk cafes are likely to open first and be the most popular with people looking to let loose, but in completely safe.

In a virtual meeting on Thursday, the city council’s licensing committee turned its attention to those establishments.

At the request of Ald. Brendan Reilly (42)n/a), the licensing committee has agreed to let outdoor patios and rooftop gardens in downtown Chicago stay open until midnight this spring, summer and fall — if they’re lucky enough to return.

For years, Reilly has sought out that extra hour to accommodate international travelers who like to hang out late. International travel is virtually non-existent and will likely remain a part of what it used to be until there is a coronavirus vaccine.

But rooftop garden and outdoor terrace businesses are set to return, as soon as the chains are lifted, which will make that extra hour of work all the more important.

“It’s an annual exercise. I again ask members to extend these hours to the hospitality industry – assuming they are back in business in time to use their patios this year. Assuming people will eventually go back to work,” Reilly said.

“It’s one more way to support an industry that’s struggling terribly right now with the stay-at-home order and all the measures we’re taking to protect public health. … We also need to give these businesses the opportunity to generate additional revenue by adding that extra hour during the warm months.

Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia called the order a “solid measure” for a struggling industry and predicted large crowds for outdoor patios and rooftop gardens.

“You can practice social distancing. They would just be more comfortable in the fresh air than outside,” Toia said.

Ald town center. Brian Hopkins (2n/a) said he too was in favor of overtime. But like Reilly, Hopkins wants to maintain the annual review to control noise in places like his neighborhood hotel which is “surrounded on all sides by residential condo towers.”

“Bars and restaurants that have patios, that have outdoor spaces, that have cafes and rooftops – they’re going to do more business than bars and restaurants that don’t have outdoor spaces because people are going feel more comfortable. It’s generally safer in an outdoor environment right now with an airborne virus still lurking there,” Hopkins said.

“Given this, we can anticipate larger crowds on rooftops, which means more noise. We want them to open. We want them to make money. We want the servers back to work. But that doesn’t mean we can stop trying to keep some peace so the neighbors won’t complain.

Noise control was also the driving force behind another ordinance championed by Hopkins and approved by the licensing committee.

For bars and restaurants violating the ban on live or amplified music on outdoor patios and rooftop gardens, the minimum fine would be increased to $400, although the maximum ever imposed would drop from $5,000 to $1. $000.

“I had patios that attracted so many people for their outdoor setup with music, they viewed the fines as just a cost of doing business. They had such a good deal that they said, “We’re going to keep violating it and paying the fines.” I had to do something to increase the incentive not to break the rules,” Hopkins said.

“If you’re outdoors, the chances are much lower that you’ll be exposed to the virus. … In recognition of this, bars will want to market their outdoor spaces – and that’s fine. There’s no no reason why they can’t bring the crowds back to their terraces and rooftops while still being good neighbors.

The licensing committee also approved an ordinance defended by Reilly banning peddling in parts of the River North, Gold Coast and Near North neighborhoods.

Reilly said the ordinance addresses “some chronic issues that we have had on very specific blocks and streets. ….This is not a general prohibition for the service. It’s just a handful of hallways.


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