Dining out(side)

Opinion: Editorials

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By Editorial

Oak Park has plainly become a mecca for restaurants. They line the streets in each and every commercial strip. They help define, especially those that are independently owned, the culture of the village. They generate notable sales tax, liquor tax and property tax revenue.

So getting this engine of commerce running again in this COVID-19 pandemic is important. Like all small businesses, our restaurants are suffering grievous, sometimes insurmountable damage. We report today that LaBella, South Boulevard off Marion Street, will not reopen. There will be more of these permanent losses. So the move to follow Gov. J.B. Pritzker's new guidance on allowing outdoor seating to re-open, maybe even to be created, is enticing.

The state's guidance is strict: much diminished seating capacity to ensure social distancing, servers and diners wearing masks except when eating, temperature checks of employees before shifts. All necessary steps. Oak Park officials have basically said the village will follow state guidelines. So we expect to see outdoor dining as early as the end of this week.

Here's our caution: 

There are clearly many lame-brained people at large. We saw them all Memorial Day weekend on TV news in states and cities — Lake Geneva, for one — which have already reopened. No masks, no social distancing, seemingly no brain cells at work as they swamped bars and restaurants.

Down that path is more infection, more delay in anything that looks like sustainable normal. 

As Oak Park moves forward with outdoor dining, it must carry a big stick of enforcement. Pressure and expectations will fall on food entrepreneurs to enforce crowd limits. And it will be necessary for the health department and police to actively shut down excess. If we thought it was hard to scoot families off playgrounds a month ago. Setting limits on diners and drinkers will be much harder but more necessary.

We have not, as a village, as a state, sacrificed so much over three months for the public good to allow it to evaporate for nachos and beer on a summer evening.

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments