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Chicago's Mayor Seeks To Extend Outdoor Dining, Other Relief Efforts

Chicago's relief efforts for businesses could be extended well into 2021.

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With businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago’s mayor is proposing an extension of relief efforts to get them through tough times ahead.

This could mean larger outdoor dining spaces and a reduction in fees to keep restaurants afloat.

“There’s a lot more that will need to be done, starting with, we’ve got to get the federal government to stand up and do its job,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

On Tuesday, Chicago’s mayor proposed an ordinance that would extend many of the programs rolled out over the summer into next year.


-If the City Council passes the mayor’s proposal, businesses with expired public vehicle licenses would have until next summer to renew.


-Businesses issued a sidewalk cafe permit next year would have an option to extend their sidewalk cafe space in front of a neighboring business.

-There would also be a 75% reduction in permit fees.

-More than 1,000 existing permits set to expire in February would be recognized through June 2021.


-The 450 Chicago bars and restaurants operating under expanded outdoor dining could see the program extended through the end of 2021.

The City Council could vote on this ordinance at December’s meeting.

For JoJo’s Shake Bar in River North, extending the outdoor dining program would mean staying open for business during an indoor dining ban.

Managing partner Nicholas Thayer said he’s doing everything he can to keep his staff employed and customers happy.

“With winter rolling in, we had to come up with a way to keep people warm and dine outside,” said Thayer.

Thayer’s restaurant is operating under a heavily decorated tent placed in a former parking lot off West Hubbard Street in the heart of downtown Chicago.

The city has assisted businesses, like JoJo’s, through the permitting process to help restaurants transition their operations to outdoor dining.  

Thayer remains skeptical about the future of Chicago’s service industry.

“It’s good to see that the city is trying to do everything they can to support all the businesses,” said Thayer. “Let’s face the facts. When it’s 20 degrees, it’s going to be tough for people to sit outside and dine.”

A date for the City Council to meet next month has not yet been set.

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