Johnson introduces outdoor dining ordinance at first City Council meeting
CHICAGO - Outdoor dining for the season is in full swing, and now, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is pushing to make expanded dining permanent.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to pass a similar ordinance last fall, but the plan hit a roadblock, partially because it didn’t require input from local alderpersons.
In Johnson’s first City Council meeting as mayor Wednesday, he introduced an ordinance that would create a long-term outdoor dining program that allows eligible restaurants and bars to set up tables in the roadway immediately in front of, or next to, their establishment.
This ordinance, however, would eliminate the streamlined, automatic renewal process Lightfoot proposed and would require input from the local alderperson.
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The co-founder of the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group says the increased revenue from expanded outdoor dining was a lifesaver for many restaurants during the pandemic.
"This is really about the expanded outdoor dining, which means being able to sometimes go onto the street, onto the walkways and it was a big deal to a lot of restaurants during the pandemic," said Scott Weiner of The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group. "It helps the city, it helps the neighborhoods, because ultimately what people don’t want to see are empty storefronts in the neighborhoods."
The city's original expanded outdoor dining program expired at the end of 2022.