ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The streets are closed, the barricades are up, and the tables are set, ready for people to enjoy some outdoor dining in downtown Arlington Heights. Arlington Alfresco kicked off Friday at noon.
For the third year, restaurants in the area of Vail and Campbell expand their dining rooms into the street, attracting large crowds of people to the local shops as well.
Residents said it brings a whole new vibe to the area.
"The best part I think, is just seeing people, you know, walking down the street. It's more of like a community feel," said Shannon McCollum.
A lot of residents and business owners call it a win-win. And it's raising the question - is this pandemic pivot here to stay?
For Danielle Kuhn, owner of Scratchboard Kitchen, the answer is yes.
"We opened in lockdown which was quite the wild ride. So to have something like this where guests could come and feel safe and comfortable and have a really enjoyable experience made a huge difference. It was a lifeline for us," Kuhn said.
"It draws a big crowd, and in a way that's really positive and exciting, and it just brings so much liveliness to downtown Arlington Heights," she said.
Brian Nelms said it's become a destination.
"I live downtown and still have friends that live in the city, and they actually make the trek back out here to hang out with us...we've looked forward to it every year, and we're excited for it this year," Nelms said.