Expanded outdoor dining here to stay in Grayslake
When the pandemic hit and suddenly local restaurants weren't able to serve diners indoors, Grayslake officials expanded the rules for outdoor dining, helping some restaurants survive.
Even though pandemic conditions have improved, Grayslake leaders voted Tuesday to preserve the expanded outdoor dining policies that have allowed restaurants that never before had served outside to continue doing it into the future.
"It's exciting to allow a business to expand their model to become more profitable and to continue offering wonderful options to those in town," Trustee Elizabeth Davies said.
Associate Village Manager Chris Sparkman said that under the new rules, restaurants are able to more easily use public spaces for outdoor dining. In addition, the new rules allow pets in outdoor dining spaces.
Sparkman said Light the Lamp Brewery, 129 Center Cut, and Something Brewing took advantage of the pandemic-era outdoor dining expansion and have expressed interest in continuing to serve outside.
Light the Lamp co-owner Bill Hermes said expanded outdoor dining helped the business make it through the worst of the pandemic. Outdoor dining started with a couple of picnic tables set up on the concrete and gravel next to the brewery, he said, and has expanded over time. It is now the preferred dining spot for some patrons, though Hermes said perhaps that won't hold true as the weather turns colder.
Hermes said now that people have gotten used to dining outside, it is nice that the brewery will be able to continue allowing it.
"We didn't want to put anything permanent in place at the time, but we're talking about upgrades now," he said. "Hopefully this helps keep building our business moving forward."
A separate ordinance approved at the board meeting Tuesday allows the number of parking spaces at Light the Lamp to be reduced to accommodate the outdoor seating section. Light the Lamp operates out of the historic Cupola Building at 2 S. Lake St. that was built in 1916 and originally served as an automobile dealership and repair shop.