Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that she plans to launch a winter design challenge in an attempt to "reimagine the winter outdoor dining experience."
In partnership with IDEO, BMO Harris Bank and the Illinois Restaurant Association, the Winter Design Challenge asks Chicago residents to propose outdoor dining solutions that adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, the mayor's office said.
According to Lightfoot's office, the challenge will run Aug. 25 to Sept. 7, with winners announced in mid-September. Each winner will receive $5,000 and opportunities to start their idea at restaurants and bars around the city, the office said.
“While we’ve had to implement restrictions and take hard measures to combat a recent rise in COVID-19 activity, we will continue to ensure our restaurants, bars and businesses have the supports they need to survive during these unprecedented times,” Lightfoot said. “We are asking our community members to come together and think creatively about how we can make outdoor dining feasible in the winter.”
The mayor's office said that all City of Chicago residents are invited to participate in the challenge with submissions accepted on IDEO's open innovation platform.
A panel of local restaurants and community members will select one winner from each of the following categories:
- Outdoor, standalone structures
- Indoor-adjacent spaces
- Cultural shifts making winter dining more appealing
“Our restaurants and bars are the heart and soul of the city, and we must do everything possible to keep them operational during the harsh winter months,” Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said. “We need out-of-the-box thinking to address the hardship facing our industry."