New 'Alfresco' tax at downtown Arlington Heights restaurants to begin Feb. 1

  • An additional downtown Arlington Heights food and beverage tax -- set to take effect Feb. 1 -- will help fund the village's setup and maintenance costs for the Arlington Alfresco summer outdoor dining zone.

      An additional downtown Arlington Heights food and beverage tax -- set to take effect Feb. 1 -- will help fund the village's setup and maintenance costs for the Arlington Alfresco summer outdoor dining zone. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, June 2021

  • This map shows the downtown Arlington Heights area where a new food and beverage tax will be implemented at bars and restaurants starting Feb. 1.

    This map shows the downtown Arlington Heights area where a new food and beverage tax will be implemented at bars and restaurants starting Feb. 1. Courtesy of the Village of Arlington Heights

 
 
Posted1/19/2022 5:00 AM

It'll probably still be too cold to dine outdoors in two weeks, but that's when downtown Arlington Heights restaurant patrons will begin paying a new "Alfresco" tax.

The village board Tuesday night approved an ordinance that will tack a 0.75% tax onto bills, on top of the current 1.25% village food and beverage tax, starting Feb. 1 at about a dozen restaurants near Vail Avenue and Campbell Street.

 

Though it will be charged to diners' bills year-round, the tax is intended to help fund the village's setup and maintenance costs for the popular summer Arlington Alfresco outdoor street dining area.

Village officials say the tax will generate $141,000 a year -- enough to cover the estimated $90,000 in annual Alfresco expenses, including public works overtime, equipment, materials, supplies and signage.

For diners, the additional tax will mean paying an extra 75 cents on a $100 meal, or about 8 cents more on a $10 drink.

The village board's 7-0 vote Tuesday -- in which trustees formally approved an amendment to the portion of municipal code dealing with food and beverage taxes -- came with little discussion, making it a mere formality after a Dec. 13 committee meeting on the topic that lasted nearly three hours.

"We had an exhaustive discussion that evening regarding Alfresco," Trustee John Scaletta noted Tuesday. "It was a lively discussion between the village board, staff and our stakeholders."

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At that meeting, Village Manager Randy Recklaus and Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jon Ridler said downtown restaurant owners are OK with the tax, believing it would not hurt their businesses.

While trustees endorsed the idea of an Alfresco tax, they stopped short of supporting a related idea from the village staff to charge a $1,000 annual licensing fee to as many as seven restaurants outside the Alfresco area that might use blocked-off portions of public streets for outdoor dining.

Such a fee would directly affect those restaurants' bottom lines, many of the trustees said, whereas the Alfresco tax would be paid directly by diners, including those who live in Arlington Heights and those who don't.

Patrons subject to the new tax will include those who dine at any bar or restaurant on Campbell Street from Highland to Dunton avenues, and on Vail Avenue from Wing Street to the Vail Avenue garage, according to the ordinance.

Trustees on Tuesday also confirmed their earlier preference that Alfresco start the first week in May and end the last week of September, paving the way for Harmony Fest before streets are reopened in October.

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