One of the challenges that restaurants, taverns and other establishments in Chicago face as the city begins reopening is a lack of patio space. City health officials have been clear that being outside is safer than being inside. As such restaurants are tentatively reopening they are really only able to fill seats that are outside or immediately next to the windows. That’s a pretty limited capacity and I’ve seen more than a few creative solutions.
Take, for example, Lucky Dorr, the pub featuring Chicago’s craft breweries that is located just beyond Wrigley Field’s left field wall in caretaker way. Lucky Dorr will reopen today at 4 p.m., but when I walked by yesterday I noticed they had expanded their patio capacity considerably:
Specifically, all six of the banquet tables beyond the awning are new. That more than doubles Lucky Dorr’s capacity. I imagine all they had to do to make that work was confirm with the Cubs they could push out further into Caretaker’s Way temporarily.
It got me thinking that one of the ways Wrigleyville could expand outdoor eating/drinking space this summer is a limited opening of Gallagher Way to events like Food Truck and Beer/Wine Tasting events. Obviously these events wouldn’t be able to draw anywhere near the crowd they’ve drawn in the past. There would need to be a ticket system and monitoring to keep crowd sizes manageable. In order to make up for those smaller events, the City of Chicago should consider temporarily changing their rules regulating Gallagher Way to permit the area for more frequent, smaller events throughout the summer.
I don’t know what the break-even point for Gallagher Way is from a crowd size/profit perspective, but I imagine that hosting more frequent smaller events there would utilize a much needed outdoor town square space in one of Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods. It would also bring back some of the employees who work in that space at least on a limited basis while providing a venue for food trucks to re-establish themselves as the city reopens.
As Mayor Lightfoot considers closing down select city streets to expand outdoor dining capacity across the city it seems silly that one of the spaces made for precisely those types of events remains closed to the public entirely.