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Around Rogers Park - Outdoor Dining May Become Permanent under Proposed Ordinance

Perhaps no single industry suffered more from the pandemic than bars and restaurants. Seemingly overnight, these establishments went from hubs of activity to dark and empty spaces where patrons could no longer congregate for fear of spreading the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

But, as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. These eating and drinking places had little choice but to come up with new and creative ways of staying alive while the virus raged before treatments and vaccines could be developed. Their very survival depended on it. One of the most successful of these survival strategies was simply moving these restaurants outside.

Needless to say, this strategy was easier to pull off in the warmer summer months than in the chilly winter and early spring months. So the city developed a plan to allow the partial or complete closure of certain blocks where restaurants were clustered and traffic was not too heavy.

According to Sandi Price, Executive Director of the Rogers Park Business Alliance and RPBG Director, there are three locations in Rogers Park that allow either “year-round” or “extended outdoor dining.” These are the 1500 block of Jarvis, and the two Glenwood blocks that are immediately north and south of Morse Avenue on the west side of the Red Line viaduct.

The 1500 block of Jarvis, and Glenwood to the north of Morse, have both received “year-round” permits that allow the complete closure of these blocks to automobile traffic, turning them into de facto car-free, outdoor plazas. While automobiles are still allowed on Glenwood south of Morse, the Rogers Park Social obtained an “extended outdoor dining” permit allowing it to use the public sidewalk and adjacent street parking spaces. In all three examples, these newly created public spaces make it possible for people to eat, socialize and just generally enjoy being outside in a safe and social environment.

Before the pandemic, who would have thought that Chicago’s cold climate would allow for year-round outdoor dining? But now that we’ve tried it, it has proven to be a surprisingly popular concept. For a lot of people, it is also an idea worth preserving – pandemic or no pandemic. If the Ordinance passes, these dining diehards will get their wish. And in Rogers Park, these three blocks will be able to continue to function as social gathering places and respites from the fast pace of the rest of the city.




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