A downtown Arlington Heights restaurant will soon be allowed to use public property to create an outdoor dining cafe.
The Arlington Heights village board approved a request from Carlos and Carlos, 27 W. Campbell St., to create an outdoor dining space that will take up some of Harmony Park, a village owned public space in the downtown starting as early as the end of this month.
The 11 foot by 21 foot space will make up about 2 percent of Harmony Park, said Village Manager Bill Dixon.
The move came on the same night when the village decided to loosen fencing restrictions for outdoor dining on public sidewalks or rights of way, meaning Carlos and Carlos will not have to build a fence around the outdoor eating area.
"I think it's beneficial for us and for the village," said owner Carlos Montiel.
Originally Trustee John Scaletta said he was not in favor of the idea, but the details of the plan changed his mind.
"It is the park of the people. I want to make sure it's always available to the people," he said.
However, Carlos and Carlos will be the only business allowed to serve food and alcohol in Harmony Park.
"I know there are some concerns about fairness in this process," said Mayor Tom Hayes. "But because this particular business is unique in that it is located contiguous to this park, it is a hardship that was not created by the business, which provides justification for granting this particular request."
The restaurant will not be allowed to use the space during large-scale village events such as the Mane Event and Taste of Arlington.
Officials said they do not plan to have Carlos and Carlos pay rent for the space, but a lease agreement will work out the official details of the arrangement.
"I'm glad to see this is finally coming to us," said Trustee Joe Farwell. "This should have come to us 10 or 12 years ago when we opened Harmony Park. It was part of a grander plan when we were looking at plans for the park."
When the restaurant is closed, the tables will still be available as kind of an "open campus" for downtown patrons to sit at to eat, read or enjoy, Montiel said.
Montiel said he already has the tables and equipment to set up outdoor dining and he hopes to have the space open to customers by Memorial Day.
Montiel said that in future years he hopes to take advantage of the warm season from the end of April through the beginning of October. He said he will make outdoor heaters available for cold days at the beginning and end of the outdoor eating season.
"This will be wonderful for the restaurant, and for the village," Montiel said.