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High Fees For Restaurants Despite Shorter Taste Of Chicago

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(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Restaurants at this year’s Taste of Chicago will have half the time to sell food, but must pay even more to the City of Chicago for the privilege.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, whether restaurants choose to serve food for the full five days of the Taste, or choose the new one-day option, they will have to pay the city sales tax of 10.75 percent, as well as a commission of 18 to 20 percent, according to applications that went out Wednesday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

There is also a $3,000 participation fee for restaurants that operate through the full scaled-back festival, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The newspaper reports organizers are cutting participants from 59 residents to 40, which may explain why they project attendance to be half the size of last year.

Robinson’s Ribs owner Charles Robinson tells the Tribune he expects to lose money on the Taste this year, but will pay the fees for the benefit of exposure.

The city is drastically cutting back the Taste of Chicago this year. The festival will be reduced from 10 days to five, and will also be moved from the time around the July 4 holiday to mid-July.

For many years, the Taste of Chicago boasted big-name musical acts, as well as restaurant. But it has lost some $7 million in the past three years.

Last year, attendance for the Taste was down 2.35 million compared with two years earlier. There were shorter hours and no big-name musical acts.

The onetime climax of the Taste, the July 3 Fireworks Extravaganza, was eliminated in 2010 in an effort to save money, and after a gun fight broke out as the crowd left the show two years before that. One man was killed in the 2008 incident.

The Chicago Park District handled the Taste of Chicago for the first and only time last year, amid calls to privatize the festival. But this year, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has taken over again.

The festival has been administered by the Illinois Restaurant Association, but the city has put the contract up for competitive bidding.

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