It's time to get out and enjoy a sidewalk café

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After the cold bitter past months…sidewalk cafés will be welcomed and appreciated more than ever! With the anticipation of balmy weather and the upcoming Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk, preparations begin for the start of summer and the appearance of sidewalk cafés throughout the neighborhood.

Sidewalk cafés don't just appear; the City of Chicago imposes strict guidelines on the operators of sidewalk cafés. The sidewalk café season runs from March 1 through December 1. A business seeking approval must submit a detailed application, including the exact length and width of the proposed sidewalk café area, photographs, seating plan, and landscaping requirements. The application must include the Alderman's signature/approval. A sidewalk café operator must hold a valid retail food establishment license, and food must be offered for sale during the hours of operation. Only alcoholic beverages sold by the operator are allowed at sidewalk cafes. A café cannot operate "BYOB."

The city expects sidewalk cafés to enhance the neighborhood. The landscaping requirements of the ordinance are very specific. At least 50% of the café boundary must be covered with planter boxes of a minimum size and contain live plants. The Sheffield neighborhood sidewalk café hours of operation are 8 am to 10 pm. Music is not permitted at any sidewalk café.

Unlike other licenses, sidewalk café licenses require an annual reapplication. Sidewalk cafes are welcomed by our neighborhood. However, should a business not comply with the City's strict guidelines of sidewalk café operations, a fine of $200 to $500 will be issued for each offense.

Sheffield neighborhood sidewalk cafes this past season included: Starbucks (Webster/Halsted), McGee's, Tarantino's, Athenian Room, Glascott's, formerly John's Place (White Oak Tavern & Inn), Annette's Italian Ice, David's Tea, Jam N' Honey, Homeslice, Taq Haus, Le Pain Quotidien, Sal's Deli, Café Floriole, and Chez Moi.

Patty Hayes chairs SNA's Neighborhood Relations Committee.