CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago bars that don’t serve food can now apply for a city permit to setup tables on the sidewalk.
While the city is easing the restrictions, some bar owners say it’s just not enough and it won’t help everyone. CBS 2’s Steven Graves reports from Lakeview where one business owner said more needs to be done.
That point of view comes from a small, neighborhood bar that’s been here decades. He has private property for tables. The nearby street hasn’t closed. He says he literally has no room to get excited.
“It’s like we have the same people come in here all of the time,” said bar owner Michael Ziwei.
But now that loyal crowd at the decades-old Home Tavern on Lincoln Avenue sees caution tape on the door. It’s closed here. It stayed open for several days.
“I can show you my books. For the 10 days I was open, I didn’t make $1,000,” said Ziwei.
Until recently when Mayor Lori Lightfoot cut off business indoors because of a spike in COVID-19 cases. But when you tell owner Michael Ziwei, new rules from the mayor mean he can have customers sit outside on the sidewalk.
“Where am I going to put tables? Seriously. There’s no money to be made. There’s nothing I can do,” Ziwei said. “To luckily bring in what? $50 to $60 a day? It’s ridiculous.”
At K’s Dugout in Andersonville, there’s happiness with the mayor’s new lenient rules said tables have to be sectioned off. Bars must team up with restaurants for food options.
“It was a good reaction,” manager Kathy Mathis said. She showed off a binder of menus. Her bar is on a street corner, so she has space. A side parking lot also allows for service.
“We can put two small tables in the front right here,” Mathis said, who added that she’s even exploring the option of putting tables in grassy areas.
“We’ll get another 20-24 people,” Mathis said.
Back at Ziwei’s Home Tavern, the owner said it’s not enough and had a message for the city:
“You know, you’ve got to give us a break. I know we have to be safe. But you’ve got to give us a break because everything is going to shut down,” Ziwei said.
For this sidewalk options, owners still need that expanded outdoor dining permit. It should take about five days to for approval.