WBEZ | Elliott Ramos | May 21, 2020
Since the start of the statewide shutdown, restaurants have been permanently closing their doors one after another. So these businesses are pleading with officials to give them leeway to offer new ways of serving their patrons.
Last Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker threw restaurants and bars a lifeline, announcing that in Phase 3 they would be allowed to open outdoors provided they allow for social distancing.
“With the right restrictions, tables 6 feet apart and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff and other precautions, the experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities and give our hospitality industry a much-needed boost,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing.
But how would that work? One Chicago architect believes design is the answer. Josh Pabst, an architect for RATIO, a design firm with offices in Chicago, has created a concept that could allow for outdoor dining on city streets.
Pabst’s idea is simple: Close selected streets to vehicle traffic and extend the sidewalk area to accommodate outdoor seating. Pedestrians would walk down the center, similar to the configuration Chicagoans are accustomed to seeing during neighborhood street festivals.
“I certainly wasn’t the first to think it or write it, but I thought it could use an architect to think that through and what that means, how that might look,” said Pabst, who does not work for the city and created these renderings pro bono.
Chicago is no stranger to outdoor seating, nor closing streets. The city has an extensive outdoor cafe program, which is a quintessential Chicago summer experience. Every year, restaurants must obtain permits, which are approved by the City Council and adhere to strict rules, which include barricades, ADA accessibility, and even having flowers and plants to mark their boundaries.
So, if the city were looking for a mechanism to implement such a plan, the cafe application process would be the easiest place to start: More than 300 permits have already been approved for this summer, according to data from the city’s department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
“The street space offers a parallel to what the whole world is doing. The whole world is trying to balance the economy and health. And the street offers the opportunity to do both,” Pabst said.
Last year, nearly 1,200 restaurants and bars applied for sidewalk cafe permits. But, the program could be extended to the thousands more dine-in establishments in the city, many adjacent to sidewalks that have little space for tables.
“What’s unique about roads is they’re already paid for. The municipality has a tool in its pocket,” Pabst said.
In 2013, WBEZ reported that many of the city’s sidewalk cafes were clustered on the North Side, and that holds true today. Those businesses have a leg up on others because the streets have been modified to have wider pedestrian sidewalks through decades of streetscape projects.
Even so, the social-distancing requirement would cap the number of patrons they’d be able to serve with limited space. And restaurants without pedestrian-centric streets on the South and West Sides would likely need additional space to operate outdoors.
“I want to encourage municipalities and mayors who are interested in helping restaurants expand their outdoor seating options to do whatever is in their power and best fits their communities to help these restaurants,” Pritzker said.
Last year, the city’s Department of Transportation approved more than 600 street closures permits for festivals such as Market Days in Lakeview or Midsommarfest in Andersonville, and more than 4,000 additional closures for neighborhood block parties.
The city’s festival permitting process, which includes street closures, CTA reroutes, and the drinking beer and wine on public ways, could in theory be applied to an open streets concept.
“This is not the final solution, it’s something to talk about,” Pabst said. “We need engagement from the businesses and community.”
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CNBC | Alex Sherman | May 9, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt economies and lives in ways we never could have imagined. But the world won’t stay on lockdown forever.
We asked public health and industry experts to share their thoughts on what things will look like when the pandemic finally recedes. In this segment of our series “The Next Normal,″ we look at what experts are saying about when restaurants and bars may reopen for business.
Restaurants and bars have been among the hardest-hit businesses during coronavirus quarantines. While some establishments will reopen with limited capacity sooner rather than later, the sector is likely to face widespread decimation, according to industry and health experts.
The National Restaurant Association projected the industry would take in $899 billion in sales in 2020 before coronavirus quarantines swept across the country. But most depend on consistent cash flow to keep their doors open and people employed. Since widespread lockdowns began in March, more than 8 million restaurant industry employees have lost their jobs or have been furloughed, according to a survey of 6,500 establishments by the association. That equates to a loss of $80 billion through April, and up to $240 billion by the end of the year.
While some restaurants and bars have pivoted to offering takeout and delivery, many others chose to close their doors entirely for the duration of local lockdowns. That could be a death knell for thousands of locations. The California Restaurant Association estimated in late March that 30% of the state’s 90,000 restaurants would not survive the crisis.
Restaurant owners are facing steep costs to reopen, including hiring back staff, paying off invoices and replacing spoiled ingredients. Even the country’s best restaurants won’t bounce back from prolonged closures.
“There is definitely a question mark over Eleven Madison Park — if it will reopen,” Daniel Humm, the owner of the three-Michelin-star New York restaurant, told Bloomberg Pursuits this week. “It will take millions of dollars to reopen. You have to bring back staff. I work with fancy equipment in a big space. I want to continue to cook with the most beautiful and precious ingredients in a creative way, but at the same time, it needs to make sense.” [SNIPPET]
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Eater Chicago | Jeffy Mai | April 30, 2020
Celebrate mom even while staying at home
Mother’s Day is coming up on May 10 and though restaurant dining rooms will remain closed, moms can still be treated to a fabulous meal at home. The following spots are celebrating the occasion with special to-go packages that feature lavish brunch spreads, steak dinners, and family-style feasts. So sit back and let the pros handle the cooking because even in these uncertain times, moms deserve the best.
64 Green Bay Rd | Winnetka, IL 60093
North of the city in Winnetka, French brasserie Aboyer is honoring mothers with a special three-course menu for $46. Diners will enjoy a gratin of asparagus, morels, and scallops; choice of Dover sole and chateaubriand or roasted halibut and soft shell crab; and chocolate souffle. All orders include a $20 gift card as well.
Koi Fine Asian Cuisine and Lounge
624 Davis St | Evanston, IL 60201
Evanstonians can sit down to a family-style meal from this pan-Asian eatery on Mother’s Day. It will serve four-to-six diners and feature four appetizers (edamame, crab wontons, shrimp dumplings, spicy chicken wings), four entrees (chicken stir fry, walnut shrimp, vegetable fried rice, Mongolian beef), chocolate lava cake, and a bottle of wine for $80.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen
4609 N Lincoln Ave | Chicago, IL 60625
Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square has two Mother’s Day packages available until May 7 for pickup. One features smoked chicken and dumplings, plus honey-glazed jerk brisket. The other is seafood-centric with Creole shrimp and cheddar hot tamale. Both come with dessert.
Lizzy J Cafe
2205 W Montrose Ave | Chicago, IL 60618
Lizzy J Cafe has a Mother’s Day package that can be ordered via a third-party delivery service. There are three packages and the restaurant will take orders until May 8 on the restaurant’s website or via phone.
2075 N Lincoln Ave | Chicago, IL 60614
Ballyhoo Hospitality is taking care of moms on their big day by whipping up a host of delicious bites and goodies. Take home a spread of mini chocolate croissants, smoked salmon, rosemary ham, lemon squares, and much more, as well as a bottle of wine or a cocktail kit. Customers will also receive a brunch basket featuring products from the company’s various restaurants. Email firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1 to pre-order the $250 package. Pickup is available at any Ballyhoo location.
1729 N Halsted St | Chicago, IL 60614
One of Chicago’s most esteemed restaurants is reopening for takeout service and will have a Mother’s Day lineup. Order brunch for two ($60) and nosh on housemade bagels, veggie quiche, kale and brussels salad, maple-cured bacon, fresh fruit, and granola and yogurt. If folks are looking for a heartier option, chef Lee Wolen’s dinner for two ($85) offers veggie crudites, prawn cocktail, honey-lacquered duck confit, asparagus, warm grain salad, and chocolate hazelnut tart.
The Goddess and Grocer
1649 N Damen Ave | Chicago, IL 60647
Brunch in bed without doing any of the hard work by ordering the Goddess and Grocer’s room service menu. Guests get to pick a cocktail, starter, entree, and dessert to share. Among the choices are cinnamon French toast, breakfast frittata, and chicken enchiladas. The $75 meal serves two; larger parties can be accommodated for an extra $19.50 per person.
1840 W North Ave | Chicago, IL 60622
Wicker Park’s popular hearth-centric restaurant is putting together a brunch package full of its greatest hits. Enjoy focaccia, chopped salad, lamb gnocchetti, roasted filet mignon, chilled shrimp, and chocolate cake for $65. The two-person meal can be enhanced with wine, a $45 mimosa kit, or additional dishes for an extra $20.
Milk & Honey
1920 W Division St | Chicago, IL 60622
This homey breakfast cafe’s brunch package will include fruit salad, huevos rancheros casserole, orange-almond French toast, bacon, chicken sausage, and roasted potatoes. The cost is $70 for four people and $90 for six people. Mimosa kits are an additional $35.
Tavern On Rush
1031 N Rush St | Chicago, IL 60611
Tavern on Rush is back open for delivery and takeout and offers a meal that can feed four. Family-style entrees include pork chops, chick porcini, salmon, and steak. There’s also several side orders to select. Call or go online to place an order.
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
1028 N Rush St | Chicago, IL 60611
The prominent Chicago steakhouse is offering two carryout options for Mother’s Day. A $249 roasted beef tenderloin dinner serves 4-6 people and includes brioche rolls, sides, and a strawberry shortcake kit. For diners who prefer to cook at home, Gibson’s is also selling pre-packaged beef tenderloin with strawberry shortcake kits for $159. Flower arrangements from Kehoe Designs can be added for $40 or $85. Orders must be placed by May 8.
980 N Michigan Ave | #2 | Chicago, IL 60611
Spiaggia’s little sibling has a special family-style meal for Mother’s Day with a choice of lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs with a kale salad and rosemary focaccia. It’s available via Tock.
Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar
2700 W Chicago Ave | Chicago, IL 60622
Treat mom to the best with Heritage’s pamper packages. Priced at $225 and $325, they contain luxuries like Polanco Siberian Reserve caviar; roasted halibut with carrot and curry couscous; roasted beef tenderloin; and more. The restaurant is also serving a three-course dinner for $100. Limited quantities are available and the ordering deadline is May 8.
702 N Wells St | Chicago, IL 60654
All three locations (River North, Lincoln Park, Winnetka) of the Greek standout are offering festive Mother’s Day menus. Brunch — priced at $22 per person — boasts items like deviled eggs, tsoureki French toast, and Greek frittata. The $25 lunch and dinner special includes a Greek salad, loukoumades, and choice of entree.
615 N Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL 60611
Make this Mother’s Day memorable with a steakhouse dinner package. Choose an appetizer, salad, entrée, side, and dessert for $85 per person. Selections include crispy shrimp, New York strip steak, and warm vanilla caramel cake. Guests can upgrade the experience with a bottle of Prosecco or flower arrangements. All orders will also come with a free copy of the book Gather As You Go by Carol Lavin Bernick.
Shaw’s Crab House
21 E Hubbard St | Chicago, IL 60611
Lettuce Entertain You’s classic seafood restaurant is well-known for its weekend brunch buffet and on Mother’s Day, guests will be able to recreate the experience at home. Shaw’s $99 brunch starter package comes with cinnamon roll French toast, bagels and lox, country sausage, caramelized bacon, and more, plus the option to add chilled Alaskan king crab or beef tenderloin. There’s also a dinner starter package featuring a variety of side dishes like clam chowder and au gratin potatoes.
The Kitchen American Bistro
316 N Clark St | Chicago, IL 60654
Mix and match brunch items for the perfect midday meal courtesy of this River North bistro. The Kitchen is offering a la carte favorites such as biscuits and gravy, maple-pecan baked French toast, veggie frittata, and fresh pastries. The dishes are designed to be reheated, and pickup is available on May 9 or May 10.
817 W Lake St | Chicago, IL 60607
The swanky modern American restaurant will have a special set menu on Mother’s Day weekend. The $75 dinner for two consists of red-wine-braised short ribs, creamed potatoes, baby greens salad, and chocolate peanut butter cake. Optional wine pairings and floral bouquets from Kehoe Designs can be added.
1359 W Taylor St | Chicago, IL 60607
Throw a Mother’s Day feast and savor decadent chateaubriand from Davanti Enoteca. The roasted filet is served with a mushroom brandy cream sauce and accompanied by sides and Eli’s cheesecake. The cost is $109.95 for two people or $214.95 for four people. Mimosa kits and jumbo shrimp cocktails are optional add-ons. Order by May 7.
The Duck Inn
2701 S Eleanor St | Chicago, IL 60608
Kevin Hickey’s lauded neighborhood tavern is providing everything needed for a sumptuous meal at home. Celebrate mom with a spread that includes a cheese and charcuterie board, cinnamon rolls, smoked salmon, chilled shrimp and crab claws, beef tenderloin, and more. The brunch package feeds four and is priced at $185.
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Eater | Eater Staff | March 17, 2020
Nonprofits and other grassroots organizations nationwide are working to help those affected by COVID-19.
Restaurants across the country have been forced to close their doors in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, either by choice or as a result of state or municipal orders to enforce social distancing. So now, many are in trouble. Diners can help in a number of ways – by ordering delivery or buying gift cards, for example. But some companies, nonprofits, and grassroots initiatives are allowing individuals to make a direct financial contribution to the restaurants and bars that make their cities a better place to live – as well as the workers behind those establishments – during this difficult time. [SNIPPET]
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