Chicago launches Winter Design Challenge in partnership with Illinois Restaurant Association

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It may not feel like it now, but in just a few short weeks it likely won't be comfortable to dine al fresco in Chicago as the weather dips.

But with COVID-19 restrictions still expected to be in place limiting restaurant capacity indoors, restaurants will have to get creative and the city is looking for help.

"We are asking our community members to come together and think creatively about how we can make outdoor dining feasible in the winter," Lightfoot said in a statement announcing the competition.

On Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a Winter Design Challenge in partnership with IDEO, BMO Harris Bank and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a variety of challenges to Chicago's restaurant and bar owners, and the Winter Design Challenge will draw on the expertise and creativity of Chicago residents to propose innovative outdoor dining solutions that adhere to COVID-19 protocols," Lightfoot's office said in a statement.

"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," said Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association. "We need out-of-the-box thinking to address the hardship facing our industry. The Winter Design Challenge demonstrates the City's support of innovation in these trying times, and we look forward to ideas that are both creative and operationally attainable for our members."

The challenge, which launched Tuesday will run until Sept. 7.

The winners will be announced in mid-September.
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