Local design company offers solution to outdoor dining, asking for corporate help to offer structure for free

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A local design company made it possible for Pilsen restaurant Azul 18 to keep their outdoor dining experience alive.

"It was like a dream come true, I was like very excited, my first restaurant, and it's been very successful," said Azul 18 owner, Jose Cruz.

It was a childhood dream of Cruz to open up his very own restaurant ever since he was a teen. He said he's felt the economic hit of COVID-19. Recently, Cruz has been able to work within Chicago's dining restrictions thanks to a structure designed by Bridgewater Studio, a local manufacturing company.

Cruz said the space has saved his restaurant.

"It's been help[ing] a lot. I haven't laid off any of my employees because if this. Without this I think most of my employees would've been laid off," said Cruz.

"It's off the shelf components. The canopy structure is based off of construction canopy which there is miles of it available in the city," said Eric Cup, co-owner of Bridgewater Studio.

Cup said the structure was inspired by Chicago's Winter Design Challenge, which his team did not win. Cup said his team decided to use their idea, anyway. Bridgewater Studio donated the invention to Azul 18, but won't be able to do the same for everyone in need.

The structure itself is on the pricy side, the cost is at least $15,000. In order for the structure to be attainable for restaurants, Cup and his team created a GoFundMe page to help other restaurants in need.

"We don't need a perfect solution, but we need but we need a good one right now otherwise we need a sense of urgency to get something," said Cup.

He said his team is focused on providing these structures to South West Side restaurants in need, for free. He said in order to do so, he will need corporate donations.
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