Champaign Developing Outdoor Dining Options in Support of Local Restaurants

On May 20, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that bars and restaurants will be able to open for outdoor seating during phase three of the state’s reopening plan, which is expected to start in Champaign on May 29. In response, the City of Champaign is actively developing a three-pronged plan to support the many local establishments looking forward to providing outdoor dining options for customers starting next Friday.

First, the City will coordinate with those establishments that can provide outdoor dining via the City’s current Outdoor Café Program, located primarily in downtown, to determine how seating can be provided in compliance with the state’s new guidelines. In cases where the typical outdoor café layouts cannot be accommodated, the City is committed to working with business owners to find alternative solutions.

Second, planning is underway to create three “Downtown Picnic Parks” on portions of closed streets where customers will be able to enjoy carryout from local restaurants. This is being developed in collaboration with the Champaign Park District and would involve closing some minor streets in the downtown area.

Third, plans are being developed to allow private parking lots at restaurants citywide to be used for outdoor dining where available and as allowed under the state’s pending guidelines.

The City also plans to maintain the popular Curbside Pickup Program which has served restaurants well in Champaign since March and will continue for the foreseeable future.

“The City is working very quickly to finalize plans so our local restaurants can reopen safely using outdoor dining spaces,” said Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen.  “We’re committed to finding innovative new ways to support our restaurant community and provide opportunities for the reopening in a safe and responsible way that is consistent with the state’s guidelines.”

Prior to the Governor’s announcement, the City of Champaign was already preparing plans for the reopening of restaurants, but Wednesday’s announcement accelerated that process. City staff are actively working to complete those plans now, but some clarification regarding the Governor’s announcement is needed in order to finalize those plans. That additional guidance is expected to be released by the state in the near future, after which the details of the City’s plans will be finalized so that Champaign’s bars and restaurants will be able to take advantage of the new outdoor dining provisions beginning Friday, May 29.

Media Contact: Rob Kowalski | [email protected]