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Chicago Is Offering $5,000 for Innovative Ways to Dine Outside This Winter

Chicago News
by Eben Diskin Sep 4, 2020

As winter approaches, restaurants have to get innovative to continue their outdoor offerings without guests freezing their butts off. To crowdsource new ideas, the city of Chicago is giving $5,000 to residents who come up with ways to make outdoor dining possible during the cold season. The city is famous for its cold weather, with temperatures averaging 17 degrees in January.

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the Winter Dining Challenge on Twitter, saying, “We’re asking Chicagoans to share their ideas for innovative winter outdoor dining solutions that adhere to COVID-19 protocols so we can support our favorite local restaurants while keeping Chicagoans healthy.”

The $5,000 prize will be awarded to three Chicago residents who submit ideas that adhere to the city’s COVID-19 guidelines and include a prototype and feasibility research. There are three categories for submissions — Outdoor Ideas (“on patios, on sidewalks, in parking lots, or other spaces”), Indoor-Adjacent Ideas (solutions implemented “immediately adjacent to indoor spaces”), and Cultural Change (“Solutions are designed to influence a cultural shift in the City of Chicago that makes outdoor dining more appealing in the colder months.”)

According to the official contest website, “Takeout and delivery will remain options, but they often do not provide sufficient revenue to keep these places in business. As such, designing ways to attract customers to go out to their neighborhood restaurants and stay on-site for their meals is the priority in this design challenge.”

Already over 360 ideas have been submitted, including igloos, greenhouses, yurts, and labyrinths. The deadline is 11:30 PM on September 7, and ideas can be submitted online.

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