Kitchen hour changes among new Arlington Heights coronavirus relief measures

In addition to their downtown outdoor dining concept, Arlington Heights officials have agreed to ease some restrictions on restaurants as part of a local coronavirus relief package unveiled this week.

Arlington Alfresco - the coordinated plan that would close Vail Avenue and Campbell Street to allow tables and chairs from more than a dozen eateries to encroach on the public right of way - may have overshadowed some of the other items detailed by village officials during a lengthy village board meeting Monday night.

Among the other measures, trustees agreed to temporarily loosen a long-standing rule that restaurants that hold liquor licenses must operate their kitchens and offer a full menu until 11 p.m.

Local restaurateurs successfully lobbied for moving that time to 9 p.m. once a phased reopening is allowed by the state, with the caveat that some food still be available afterward. They said the move would allow them to send home cooks who often sit with arms crossed when customers stop ordering food later in the evening.

"I'm OK with that (time) if they provide some limited menu items," said Mayor Tom Hayes, who doubles as local liquor commissioner. "It has to be more than peanuts and pretzels."

Board members also agreed to a 25% reduction in fees for most liquor license holders - except for packaged goods sellers. Other liquor-related fees and taxes would be deferred until Sept. 30.

Village officials are also modifying a small business zero-interest loan program that would allow companies to use funds for operating costs, rent, mortgages and property taxes. The maximum individual loan amount of $5,000 was increased to $10,000, with a three-year payback period set to begin in 2021.

And for residents in need, the village health and human services department is refocusing its emergency assistance fund to rent/mortgage assistance for those who qualify. The village normally spends $45,000 annually on rent assistance, but since March alone, it has spent $47,000, according to Village Manager Randy Recklaus.

The village recently received a $165,000 supplemental federal grant - much of which will be allocated to the emergency assistance fund, Recklaus said.

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