Bars, breweries in Chicago reopen for outdoor service

You have some new ways to get your drink on in Chicago.

On the same day the City Council approved cocktails to go, local craft breweries are now allowed to pour beer for customers outdoors.

“It’s awesome. It’s great to get back to at least some sense of normalcy,” said Adam Cieslak of Maplewood Brewing.

They have been cranking out the beer at Maplewood Brewing on the Northwest Side since the coronavirus pandemic started.

But on Wednesday, they put out tables, chairs and umbrellas as customers could finally come to the brewery to enjoy it.

“Beer is about being with people. Talking, hanging out. And if you can’t do that, that’s a huge element that’s missing from the experience,” Cieslak said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week gave the green light to about two dozen Chicago craft breweries after initially refusing to allow them to pour beer on site because they do not serve food.

“Just kind of heard they’d be opening up and we live in the area and just wanted to enjoy the day,” said customer Collin Willman.

“I’m very elated and I think others are just to be able to get out again and support local businesses in the city,” said customer Dana Giannelli.

Booze history was also made on a different front, as the City Council allowed bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to go.

“It’s the first time probably since the 30s the cocktails to go are going to be allowed in Chicago. And the big significance is this is going to give a shot in the arm to the struggling hospitality industry,” said liquor attorney Sean O’Leary.

The law requires that the cocktails be served in a sealed container and placed in the trunk or some part of the car that cannot be reached.

“To be able to serve our cocktails for people to enjoy in their homes at a time like this, I think it brings a sense of hope to our customers as well that eventually they’ll be able to come in and do it at the bar, but for now they can do it safely at home,” said Julia Momose of Kumiko Restaurant.

The mayor’s new order is also allowing bars that do not serve food to open their patios, but industry experts say for some the lifeline may have come too late.