Arlington Alfresco to end in late September to make room for downtown 'finale event'
Arlington Alfresco, the popular outdoor dining zone in downtown Arlington Heights, is expected to wrap up in late September to give way to a "finale event" with music, food booths and more the first weekend of October.
A majority of village board members agreed to that after a nearly three-hour discussion Monday night. The finale event will be fashioned after Mane Event and Taste of Arlington, last held in 2019 and put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alfresco takes place along Vail Avenue and Campbell Street, and its first edition ran from June to November last year. The village board in January OK'd another season of Alfresco starting in March -- earlier than last year -- but without a clear end date.
The discussion on Monday night largely centered around whether to hold a finale event at the end of Alfresco season or during Alfresco season -- and if so, whether to do it within the Alfresco footprint or adjacent to it.
The owners of several downtown eateries -- including Hey Nonny and Scratchboard Kitchen -- said they loved having Alfresco, which was a lifeline during the tough economic challenges of the pandemic.
Arlington Heights Chamber Executive Director Jon Ridler said Alfresco is great, but it's also important to offer a larger event that can be inclusive of all village restaurants and businesses. He proposed having the finale event within the Alfresco footprint.
But Village Manager Randy Recklaus and some restaurant owners said that would be too onerous -- requiring table, barriers, and more to be broken down and then set up again -- and would put Alfresco on hold for up to about 10 days.
Ridler said the chamber already had put a hold on things like a stage, lighting and bands for an event in mid-September, and it might be a challenge to secure the same for early October. But village board members decided they'd rather have a finale event in early October.
Resident Dave Jaffe agreed that Alfresco was "a huge success" and hoped it could be extended long as possible, given that last year there was great weather in November.
Trustee Jim Tinaglia reminded the others that compared to last year, figuring out the plan for this year was "a wonderful problem" to have.
The village board also agreed that staff members should develop details for a possible 0.75% to 1% new food and beverage tax for restaurants in the Alfresco zone that use public parking spaces for eating areas and for non-restaurant businesses that want to use Alfresco space.
The new tax revenue would help offset the village's costs for Alfresco, which currently is being funded by the village's arts and entertainment budget. The specifics of the new tax would be reviewed and later go up for a village board vote.
Mayor Thomas Hayes and board members said they hoped the finale event can be organized by the village staff, under the direction of Recklaus, in collaboration with the chamber and the village's special events commission.
"Let's do it successfully like we have in the past," Hayes said.