St. Charles enhancing outdoor dining options with tents, igloos
Between new COVID-19 restrictions and the rapidly approaching cold weather, St. Charles restaurants and bars are gearing up for a tough winter.
St. Charles officials are gearing up to help.
At Monday's St. Charles City Council meeting, the aldermen approved a series of measures designed to enhance outdoor dining options for the cold weather. They also voted to extend the timeline for street closures to allow tents to be put up by city establishments.
"We want to make sure they're successful," said St. Charles City Administrator Mark Koenen.
Due to rising COVID-19 positivity rates, the state on Tuesday imposed a ban on indoor dining in Kane and DuPage counties that takes effect on Friday. With that in mind, Monday's action on outdoor dining becomes even more important to St. Charles businesses.
Rita Tungare, the city's director of community and economic development, presented the winter outdoor dining plan at Monday's meeting. The first step was extending the outdoor dining program on public property, due to expire at the end of October, through Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois reopening plan.
In addition to extending the current closure of a portion First Street through Nov. 30 and the closure of a portion of Walnut Avenue through Phase 4 to allow outdoor dining, the city also approved an outdoor dining plan for the West Plaza adjacent to First Street. That area features restaurants such as Gia Mia, McNally's, La Za Za's and La Mesa.
Through the allowance of tents, "igloo" pods and heating sources, the city is trying to work with business owners in case the COVID-19 positivity rate causes the continuation of the indoor dining ban for a lengthy period of time.
Koenen said he received guidance on Wednesday from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Activity that a four-sided tent is considered outdoor dining as long as two sides of the tent remain open to allow proper air flow. Establishments such as Alter Brewing, meanwhile, are hoping to utilize "igloos" for outdoor dining.
"We're trying to be business friendly," Koenen said. "But at the same time we feel an obligation to work with and follow the governor's guidance."