Hinsdale considering closing downtown street for outdoor dining to help businesses

With bars and restaurants struggling to survive during the pandemic shut down, one western suburb is kicking around a new idea to try to help its businesses.

Hinsdale leaders are considering closing down one of the main commercial streets in town and turning it into a giant outdoor café.

However, it could only happen after the state has hit some key COVID goals.

Like most Illinois restaurants, Fuller House in Hinsdale is staying alive with curbside service and delivery.

"Right now basically all we can do is wait. Just keep doing what we're doing,” said Bobby McNally.

Another big restaurant down the street did not survive the shutdown.

On Tuesday, the Hinsdale Village Board discussed a plan that would shut down two blocks of 1st Street in the heart of downtown Hinsdale, and allow the many restaurants and bars along that stretch to put tables and chairs in the street.

It would not happen until Illinois gets to Phase 4 of the governor's five-phase reopening plan, which would allow restaurants to open at 50-percent capacity.

"We can't obviously go against the governor's orders, but if we can think of creative ways to help our businesses that falls within what's allowed by the state, let's go for it,” said Hinsdale Village President Tom Cauley Jr.

The idea is that limited to 50-percent capacity, bars and restaurants will still struggle but if that capacity expands into the street, that means more revenue and more jobs.

"That would be nice because it would attract people from other neighborhoods that don't have that opportunity in their neighborhoods to come out, dining out,” said Angela Lavelli of Café Lafortuna.

And even those who don't own restaurants believe it could help their business as well.

"I think this would be terrific to close the street, you'd have more foot traffic. I think we would all benefit from it,” said Jill Card, owner of Jeans and a Cute Top Shop.

"I think it's a great idea. Be great for our businesses here. They've taken a huge hit and we really want to support them,” said Hinsdale resident Dawn Belvis.

The village board will continue the discussion at its next meeting.