Outdoor dining on Oak Park's agenda. Could open Friday

Proposal would close streets, parking to expand restaurant options

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By Melissa Elsmo

Food Writer

Oak Park's village board will meet virtually Thursday and a main topic on the agenda for the special meeting will be a proposed ordinance allowing and expanding outdoor dining for local restaurants as soon as this Friday, May 29.

The proposed ordinance would allow streets and village owned parking lots to be selectively closed to traffic to allow for increased outdoor seating for restaurants. Restaurants will need to acquire permits for outdoor dining on village property, but no fees will be associated with such permits. In addition, restaurants will need to show proof of liability insurance and adhere to all social distancing requirements related to occupancy and table spacing.

At Citrine, 100 S. Oak Park Ave., Chef Michael Taus and his team have their tape measures out to space tables in accordance with proper social distancing practices. The Mediterranean restaurant is preparing to open for patio service as soon as Friday.

The patio at Citrine typically holds approximately 20 tables but will be reduced to 8 or 9 during this phase of reopening.

In addition to continuing their robust carry out business, Taus is preparing to acquire any necessary outdoor dining permits Citrine may need. The restaurant continues to monitor the health of staff members and wipes down restaurant surfaces four times a day. Now his team is devising plans to introduce individual silverware roll-ups, single-use recyclable menus, and bottled water service as part of their patio dining program.

"This is the toughest time we've ever had in this business and safety is number one for us at Citrine," said Taus, culinary director of Gemstone Café Group. "Keeping people healthy is our top priority and we know the less we touch tables the better."

Contact:
Email: melissa@oakparkeats.com

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Reader Comments

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Kline Maureen  

Posted: May 28th, 2020 10:45 AM

speaking just of that block of OP Ave by Grape Leaves, LIVE Cafe, OP Brewing and George's, I'm wondering if it would be possible to set up a very nice shared dining area in the back BEHIND the restaurants. That would leave the street open for pickup and since most kitchens are at the back, easier for servers and keep them separate from front'-of-house pick-up operations. It would probably mean losing some employee parking spots, but might allow for a more attractive (and possibly permanent) outdoor dining area. Or perhaps the parking lot at the township office, though that might be a little bit too far.

Katina Smith  

Posted: May 28th, 2020 3:18 AM

I knew some streets would need to close to make sure "ALL" restaurants had the opportunity to have outdoor seating. I think it is an inconvenience but these are unusual times sacrifices will need to be made by all so that we can protect the Oak Park we all love. Downtown Oak Park use to be closed to traffic once before and I actually liked it. Of course I was teen and didn't drive (lol), so it really didn't affect me. But I'm really to be inconvenienced so restaurants can have sidewalk tables and the pedestrians can have the streets to safely walk while social distancing.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: May 27th, 2020 10:03 PM

Citrine and Maya del Sol have dedicated outdoor space. George's (everyone's fav for all day breakfast and other comfort food) and Grape Leaves (amongst others on that side of OP Ave) do not. So yeah, if closing the street or similar radical (but hopefully temporary) remedies is essential to keep those local treasures in business, then I'm all for it. I recognize the potential inconvenience. But radical times call for radical remedies.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: May 27th, 2020 8:29 PM

What a terrific idea. I am sure they capable of providing all safety measures of sanitation that hospitals are taking which includes having your temperature taken before you are even allowed in. A little inconvenient although we just do not have the patience to wait this virus out

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