Monday, March 22, 2021

City Exploring Broader Alfresco Dining Options for Neighborhoods - We Emphatically Support that for the Sloop!

The Hello South Loop Facebook group is soliciting info via a poll on the neighborhoods desire to close off some streets to allow for expanded alfresco dinning.  The poll can be found here (since Facebook doesn't allow us to easily embed - thanks FACEBOOK!).

We've pondered similar ideas all the back in 2014 and strongly feel that it would add a positive dynamic to the neighborhood.  Our post back then was more of a permanent 'european-style' idea, but we totally support what is being thrown out now.

WGN talks about this city's interest in this topic:

The city has announced a new initiative to increase outdoor dining areas through long-term outdoor spaces.

The ‘Chicago Alfresco’ program has city officials encouraging chambers of commerce and other neighborhood groups to think beyond emergency traffic barricades and construction cones of last year’s outdoor dining expansion to propose and build outdoor community spaces.

“Outdoor dining has become a lifeline for so many of our neighborhoods, but not all of them have been able to take advantage of our safe, outdoor dining programs,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “And by creating and transforming public spaces, the Chicago Alfresco initiative will significantly increase our city’s ability to fully revitalize the public way. Last year, we started this program out of necessity to help bars and restaurants stay open safely, now we’ve seen how well this program works and how much the City loves it, so we want to keep it going.”

In our mind the most logical areas are Dearborn between Polk and Harrison and Wabash between 13th and 14th.  

Dearborn is a slam dunk in our opinion mostly because it has the benefit of two smaller North/South streets (Federal and Plymouth Ct) that could help with traffic issues.  It also has more restaurants and bars to fill in this street (Roots, Totos, Caribbean Jerk Palace, Flacos Tacos, Printers Row Wine Shop, The Grail Cafe, Kasey's Tavern, Sofi, Amarit Thai).  Finally, all those businesses could theoretically use the extra outdoor space - maybe with the exception of Roots who has a custom-built rooftop that seems perfect for the situation.

While we would support closing down a block of Wabash it seems less of a necessity.  Flo & Santos already has a sizable beer garden.  Asian Outpost and My Place have the benefit of a wide sidewalk that allows for a good amount of patrons.  The Scout is closed and we're not sure if/when anything is coming to that space.  That leaves Harbor which probably could benefit from more outdoor space, but is it worth closing down for one restaurant?  Maybe?   

That said, it doesn't seem like this need to be an everyday type of initiative.  Weekends (and maybe include Fridays?) would seem just find in our opinion.  Fingers crossed that this happens!

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