Downtown patios, rooftops could stay open hour later during week

Tribune reporter

Customers of increasingly popular downtown rooftop gardens and outdoor patios could hang out an hour later on weekdays under a proposed trial program that got a preliminary nod from a City Council panel today.

Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, put the proposal forward, saying it would help eateries and bars better cater to a cosmopolitan clientele. It was endorsed by the Committee on Licensing and Consumer Protection and is slated for a full council vote next week.

“I think this is a great way for us to support the hospitality industry,” said Reilly, noting the measure would expire at the end of the year. If it works well and doesn’t cause problems, the changes could be made permanent and be expanded to other spots in the city, he added.

Reilly said tourists from around the globe, including those from Europe who tend to go out later at night, would appreciate the change. He said that if any problems arose with neighboring residences, he would try to find a solution.

Under the measure, the patios and rooftops would be able to stay open until midnight seven days a week, as they already can on Friday and Saturday nights. They now close at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Reilly said the change was recommended by the Illinois Restaurant Association, the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Reilly said there are 70 places in his ward, which covers most of downtown, with outdoor patios or rooftop gardens. His proposal would not affect outdoor cafes.

The measure applies to the central business district, includes downtown but also extends south and north of the Loop.

Meanwhile, the committee also recommended approval of measures that would place a one-year moratorium on new liquor licenses in the 50th Ward, as requested by new Ald. Debra Silverstein.

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