Naperville approves additional outdoor dining permits despite sidewalk space concerns
Despite concerns about sidewalk space, the Naperville City Council unanimously approved an increase in the number of outdoor dining permits for the sale of alcohol.
During COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, Mayor Steve Chirico used his emergency authority to relax liquor code regulations and allow several downtown establishments to provide outdoor food and alcohol service. That allowance, which was extended by ordinance in 2021, ended on May 1 of this year.
In response, the city council this week expanded the number of permits to 10 from six that allow service from April through October at Allegory, Giordano's, La Sorella di Francesca and Le Chocolat du Bouchard.
If they meet all the requirements, the four establishments will join Catch 35, Fat Rosie's, Front Street Cantina, Hugo's, Quiubo and The Lantern as permitted businesses at an annual cost of $500 apiece.
Among the requirements, the four restaurants must meet a minimum clearance of six feet for the passage of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Several council members questioned whether that's possible for all four.
Councilwoman Jennifer Bruzan Taylor noted her concerns after visiting the area near Giordano's and La Sorella di Francesca. Councilmen Ian Holzhauer and Paul Hinterlong actually brought a tape measure on a "field trip" to the establishments.
"We caught a lot of spots where it's going to be really tight and really hard to do what was described in some of the plans," Holzhauer said.
Chirico, who heads the liquor commission, responded by saying if any of the spots didn't meet the clearance requirement, they wouldn't receive the permit. That would leave permits open if other restaurants met the requirements.
"At least right now, we sort of went through and looked," he said. "I don't know if anybody else qualifies."
Danielle Tufano, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, said she'd work with the restaurants to help them meet the space requirements. Hinterlong said he didn't want public amenities such as benches and bike racks removed to make room for outdoor dining.
"We've got benches down there that conform to our beautification plans for our downtown," Hinterlong said. "That's public use, and it should stay that way."