Mundelein celebrating return of outdoor dining on Park Street

Only something as life-changing as the COVID-19 pandemic could get people happy about a road closure.

But that's exactly what's happening in Mundelein, where village officials and restaurateurs are celebrating the re-transformation of a roughly one-block stretch of Park Street into an outdoor dining and entertainment area ahead of summer's arrival.

A grand opening party is planned for Friday evening.

Larry Calhoun, chair of Mundelein High School's fine and applied arts department, is scheduled to perform music from 4 to 6 p.m. That'll be followed by an open mic event for local musicians hosted by Area Coffee, one of the businesses on the block.

Drawings for free commemorative T-shirts will be held, and the Tina G's and Park Street restaurants will offer dining deals, too.

Park Street was converted to an outdoor dining area from May to December last year to help those restaurants and Area Coffee attract customers during the pandemic.

Similar efforts have proved successful in Arlington Heights, St. Charles, Wheaton and other towns.

As was the case last year, the Park Street roadway is off-limits to cars and other vehicles between Route 45 and an alley east of Area Coffee. Portable barriers are in place to keep cars from driving onto the block.

When a weekly farmers market launches in June, the street closure will extend east to Seymour Avenue on Friday afternoons.

Mundelein Trustee Kara Lambert said she and her family already have enjoyed dining alfresco on Park Street a few times since the barriers went up earlier this month.

“It's just really nice to sit outside and have a place that isn't full of noise,” Lambert said.

Park Street is in the heart of Mundelein's downtown area, and officials hope the outdoor dining space will give people another reason to visit the shops, restaurants and other businesses there.

“It's great to be out and see your neighbors, and it's a great place to meet friends,” Lambert said.

In addition to seating and a stage, a decorative archway over Park Street and an overhead light array are planned.

Additionally, the village board in February agreed to purchase a vacant, grassy lot near the east end of the dining area. Officials have proposed using the space for food trucks, seating and a play area for children.

The barriers, decorations and other elements are expected to cost the village $300,000.

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat whose district includes downtown Mundelein, has requested federal funds to support the Park Street efforts.

Officials expect the outdoor dining area will remain in place through mid-November.

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This artwork depicts what Mundelein officials have hoped to see as a small section of Park Street in the village's downtown is closed off for outdoor dining and entertainment. Courtesy of the village of Mundelein
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