Restaurants and cafes in five additional Chicago neighborhoods will have more room to serve customers outdoors as an effort to help bars and restaurants stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic expands.
The pilot program, approved earlier this month by the City Council, will expand to Andersonville, Chinatown, Little Italy, Edison Park and Grand Crossing, the mayor’s office announced.
The new closed streets are: Balmoral Street on both sides of North Clark Street; Chinatown Square along Archer Avenue from Wentworth to Princeton avenues; Taylor Street from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue; Oliphant Avenue from Northwest Highway to the first alley to the north; and 75th Street from Indiana to Calumet avenues.
The effort was an “emphatic success” along Rush Street on the Gold Coast, Broadway in Lakeview and along Oakley Street in the Heart of Italy, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
However, plans to close 26th Street in Little Village have been dropped after a meeting with Alds. George Cardenas (12th Ward) and Michael Rodriguez (22nd Ward), according to the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.
“The restaurants in this immediate area have decided it is not in their best interests as they typically lose significant business during days when traffic on 26th Street is closed off,” said chamber Executive Director Blanca Soto.
The city has also allowed restaurants to expand into 30 parking lots to serve customers and approved more than 1,000 sidewalk cafe permits, according to the mayor’s office.
Restaurants and bars can reopen to indoor dining service Friday, but must limit their capacity to no more than 50 people, according to city rules on reopening.
The Illinois Restaurant Association estimates that restaurant sales are down 80%, and nearly half of Chicago’s 171,000 food service employees are laid off.