CHICAGO (CBS) — Across the state bars and restaurants have been given the green light to reopen if they move their customers outdoors under phase three of Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan, but Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it won’t be so soon for the city. If Chicago restaurants don’t have patio space to serve customers outside, what do they do? They can’t just set up tables on the sidewalk. They would need permits.
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Limited to takeout and delivery for months, some say city hall has the power to make reopening easier and staying open a reality.
Food Shiraz Mushtag, the owner of Slim’s in Ravenswood, is hoping to serve there again soon to get their numbers back up.
“We’re probably down 40 to 50%,” he said.
And with an emphasis on outdoor dining in the next phase of reopening in Illinois, he hopes to keep at least two tables on his small outdoor patio.
But what about the restaurants reopening without even a small space to help with what will be a very limited capacity? Shiraz said the permitting process takes at least two months.
“These permits are a very finite process,” he said. “You have to have dimensions. You have to have seating capacity. You have to get a plan approved.”
So, how does the city plan to handle this? CBS 2 took questions to the Office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, responsible for permits, and to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
They didn’t share any specifics on permitting or how the city will help restaurants moving forward, saying they will release more information next weekend.
“If the city is going to be lenient and not enforce those things, I think restaurants will feel comfortable trying to push the envelope to get that extra dining capacity to serve their customers,” said Mushtag. “It’s extremely important, especially as the weather warms up. If you don’t have the space inside, and you really can’t do social distancing, having that room outside is critical to your business.”
CBS 2’s Tara Molina has several questions pending with Chicago’s Office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and is still waiting for them to address exactly how they will handle this once restaurants get the green light.