CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago has expanded its outdoor dining program as additional neighborhood corridors were closed to traffic to allow for increased outdoor capacity for local businesses this weekend.
RELATED: Reopening Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces shared streets plan, 6 pilot corridors
Tucked away in the city's Lower West Side, restaurant dining is back. Locked between police barriers on a short stretch of south Oakley Avenue, checked cloths drape the tables, and waiters dote on their diners in the middle of the street.
"I've been waiting for this for years," Paddy O'Reilly said. "I'm glad we're here. ... It's good to be out."
Other customers enjoyed the al fresco dining, too.
"It's more spacious, more air. People can breathe better," Khirsten Coleman said.
Expanded Outdoor Dining on the Public Way the weekend of July 10-12:
Andersonville: West Balmoral Street, both sides of North Clark Street
Chatham: East 75th Avenue from South Calumet Avenue to South Indiana Avenue
Chinatown: South Archer Avenue from South Wentworth Avenue to South Princeton Avenue
Edison Park: North Oliphant Avenue from Northwest Highway to the first alley
Lincoln Park: North Lincoln Avenue from West Fullerton Avenue to West Wrightwood Avenue
Little Italy: West Taylor Street from South Loomis Street to South Ashland Avenue; Laflin Street from the alley north of Taylor to the alley south of Taylor
Lower West Side: South Oakley from West 24th Street to West 24 Place
Rush & Division: North Rush Street from East Oak Street to East Cedar Street, Bellevue from State to the first alley east of Rush Street, Division Street from Dearborn to State
West Lakeview: West Cornelia, from Southport east to the alley and Wellington from Southport west to the alley.
West Loop: West Randolph Street service lanes from Expressway to North Elizabeth Street
Based on interest from the participating businesses, hours and days may be adjusted for future dining in these locations.
"Some businesses like it, some do not -- it just depends on their business model," said 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin. "We're going to continue to reevaluate this to make it the best for all the businesses here along Taylor Street."
In The Heart of Chicago, street dining is a means for survival.
"If they would take this away from us, it would be very difficult with 25% inside. ... People are still not that comfortable eating on the inside," said Paula Pieri, owner of Bacchanalia restaurant.
Luciano Silvestri, owner of Bruna's, said it still might not be enough.
"I don't expect to make any money. I expect to pay all my employees and all my bills. I don't know if I can do it," he said. "It helps me a lot. I am not a young man. I am supposed to be retired, but I love what I do, so to see business back, it gives me a lot of energy. I'm young again."
The program started on the North Side in mid-June with a couple streets in Lakeview. Two weeks ago it was expanded to five more neighborhoods across the city.
All outdoor dining must continue to follow all state public health guidelines, including social distancing, mask wearing and other guidelines.
The other streets closed for outdoor dining are:
- Broadway from Diversey to Belmont
- Balmoral Street on both sides of North Clark in Andersonville
- Chinatown Square, adjacent to Archer Avenue between Wentworth and Princeton
- Taylor Street between Loomis to Ashland in the Near West Side
- Oliphant Avenue from Northwest Highway to the first alley to the north in Edison Park
- 75th Street from Indiana to Calumet in Greater Grand Crossing
Temporary shared streets program expands to 10 more Chicago neighborhoods