Burnside bar forced to close again under COVID-19 rollback after patio application denied, citing violence concerns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's not much to do Friday at Darrin's Cocktail Lounge on East 87th in Burnside. Thursday night was the last night open for a while under the city's new COVID-19 rollback rules.

Owner Darrin Sutton said he has no outdoor space and his application for patio operation was during the pandemic was denied.

"There's so much disinvestment on the South Side. Us small businesses are the lifeblood of the community," Sutton said. "We provide jobs, we provide opportunities for people, and it's just real difficult to continue when the city isn't working with us."

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"The reality is that people are shooting folks all around me," said 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris.

While there were no specific complaints about Darrin's, Ald. Harris said she and the police commander of the 4th District objected to a patio license for the bar due to violence in the area and ultimately input from residents.

"I don't want to take the chance today," she said. "Now, tomorrow may be a different day as things settle down, but today we live in a different kind of universe."

"I'm all for it, because of the noise, but when things get out of hand then it creates disturbances in the neighborhood," said Michael Cook, neighborhood resident.

"I understand the city concern, I understand the neighbors' concern with operating outside, but we just deserve the opportunity to try," Sutton said.

Some residents who asked to speak off camera said they want to support Black-owned businesses, but in this instance they are siding with the city.

There are other bar owners in the area waiting to see if their patio licenses will get the support of the alderman, commander and residents.
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