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YORKVILLE – The Yorkville City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday evening to adopt an ordinance that will allow local restaurants and bars to serve food and liquor outdoors by the end of the week, if permitted to do so under Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois COVID-19 reopening plan.
Kathleen Field Orr, city attorney, told the council that restaurants and bars in all four of Pritzker''s Restore Illinois plan are on track to start re-opening on Friday, May 29. She said those businesses in regions entering into the recovery phase of the state plan would be permitted to serve on-site customers outdoors.
“The purpose of this ordinance that’s before you is to allow all of restaurants and bars, whether or not they serve liquor indoors or out of doors, to be granted a license only until Dec. 31, 2020, to serve out of doors with certain restrictions,” Field Orr said.
According to state documents, guidelines for re-opening outdoor bar and restaurant services include incorporating more routine sanitation procedures, allowing parties of no more than 6 people and keeping a distance of 6 feet or more between seating areas.
Yorkville City Administrator Bart Olson wrote in a Thursday, May 21 memo the area used for outdoor service by local bars or restaurants has to be owned or controlled by the business, the outdoor seating can’t interfere with other businesses or be unsafe, the area must be maintained by the business, and the business owner has to have adequate insurance coverage over the outdoor seating area. He wrote the mayor also would have the authority to grant businesses license agreements to allow those businesses to use city parking spaces, city property or city parks for outdoor seating.
"A preliminary review of all known bars and restaurants in town shows that most will have adequate space within their own property or neighboring properties, except for the downtown businesses," Olson wrote.
Olson wrote in the Thursday memo that the city is looking at using part of their east alley parking lot for businesses to the east of the Route 47 downtown corridor – including Rowdy’s, The Law Office Pub & Music Hall, and Paradise Cove – to use for outdoor seating and the city also is consulting other nearby businesses to accommodate temporary public parking. He wrote the city also is looking at accommodating Ginger and Soul, which has requested the use of the city's nearby parking lot for a couple of tables.
Kate McNamara, owner of Ginger and Soul, attended part of the remote City Council meeting on Tuesday but did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment from Record Newspapers following the meeting.
Olson wrote in the Thursday memo that other businesses in the west alley of the Route 47 downtown corridor – including Crusade Burger Bar, Parma Pizza Bar and Belladonna – are looking to use their existing patio and parking areas, with the exception of Belladonna requesting usage of West Van Emmon Street. He wrote the city is looking to accommodate Belladonna's request.
Lynn Dubajic, the city's economic development consultant, confirmed Crusade Burger Bar already has some outdoor seating available but is looking to add more in their parking lot at the north side of their building. Rafael Gomez, owner of Crusade Burger Bar, attended part of the remote City Council meeting on Tuesday but was not immediately available for additional comment following the meeting.
Ward 3 Alderman Joel Frieders said he thinks what people are going to see in the east alley especially will be the most demonstrative of how creative businesses who might not have a lot of indoor space can get to come up with more inventive ways of developing their business model. He said he believes there will be more than enough parking to go around and he's looking forward to seeing that area of the city come back to life – even if it means some strange changes like customers having to remember to use the restroom before dining outside downtown.
Frieders said this is a great opportunity for people to keep investing in the community where they can. He said he's pleased with city staff looking at what the city can do to help local bars and restaurants most affected by COVID-19 closures re-open.
“I think it’s beautiful idea to not only kind of loosen the belt a little bit, but make sure that we’re kind of following a standard to make sure that we don’t have people eating and then getting squished by moving vehicles,” Frieders said.
Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said after the vote he wanted to give a special thanks to city staff for working through the details of the plan in preparation for the possible Friday re-openings.
"And I know the businesses are all very grateful," Purcell said. "They really are."