Village of Glencoe staff members and local restaurant owners are uniting with a common goal.
As the winter season approaches, village officials are partnering with Glencoe restaurants to explore expanded outdoor dining options in an effort to help them prepare for, and withstand, the latest challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Glencoe’s Board of Trustees, during its Sept. 17 regular meeting, authorized staff to work with interested restaurants to develop licensing agreements, according to a release from the village.
The agreements would allow for the use of village right-of-way, including a limited number of on-street parking spaces, for temporary installation of outdoor dining structures, the release says. Potential examples of the outdoor dining structures include igloos or greenhouses that would remain up during the winter months.
Village trustees approved a licensing agreement with Hometown Coffee and Juice for its winter outdoor dining plan during the meeting. The local restaurant plans to offer small polycarbonate greenhouses for individual tables and an expanded awning for outdoor seating in the sidewalk areas around its space, per documents submitted to the village detailing the plan.
The board approved a license agreement with Hometown in November of 2019 that allowed the restaurant to install a seasonal entry vestibule structure through the winter months. According to village documents, The vestibule structure was constructed of welded galvanized tube framing pipe with fabric walls, vinyl windows and a hinged door, and enclosed both doors into the business.
Hometown utilized two igloo-like structures last year during its winter outdoor seating efforts. Village officials say the restaurant worked closely with staff to confirm the igloos, which were placed on the sidewalk along Vernon Avenue last year, allowed adequate pedestrian access and did not interrupt snow removal.
“This was a very successful effort that also had the added benefit of creating interest in the downtown and attracted customers from a wide spectrum of neighboring communities,” reads a village memorandum detailing the restaurant’s plans.
Approved plans from the restaurant this year are similar in both intent and location but differ in regards to the logistics of the outdoor structures.
The greenhouse structures for this year are also proposed to be located on the brick paver sidewalk on Vernon Avenue, per village documents. They would be sized to accommodate tables for four people and each individual greenhouse structure would include minimal lighting and a temporary, portable heating source. The greenhouses, as proposed, will be thoroughly cleaned by restaurant staff in between uses and will include fresh ventilation.
An expanded awning for outdoor seating in the sidewalk areas around the storefront is a new element to the restaurant’s plans this year. The window awnings would extend out over tables placed up against the building and be outfitted with heating elements, according to the proposal.
Glencoe restaurants Valor and Guildhall also expressed interest in moving forward with plans for outdoor dining during winter, Assistant Village Manager Sharon Tanner told The Record.
Both eateries are looking at bringing forward similar proposals to Hometown’s and also hope to utilize a limited number of parking spaces in front of their existing restaurants to provide outdoor seating structures. Initial input from both signals that proximity to the restaurant is also important so that the distance the restaurant staff must travel is limited.
According to village documents, Guildhall anticipates that it is feasible to fit approximately 12 greenhouses in four parking spaces. Its plan is a draft plan, according to Tanner, who added that the restaurant is still working through some iterations and potential design or schematic changes.
Tanner said Valor is still in the process of putting together it’s concept. She also said only Valor, Guildhall and Hometown have thus far expressed interest in outdoor dining plans for the winter.
Restaurants that offer fast-casual service and carry-out business told village staff they have either not yet considered interest in cold-weather outdoor dining or will not move forward with winter outdoor dining, according to village documents. Staff is awaiting feedback from Meg’s cafe, while Frank and Betsie’s has indicated it does not plan to offer outdoor winter dining.
If additional restaurants do come forward with plans, the Village will continue to collaborate with them, Tanner said.
“We’re going to work closely with the restaurants as they are bringing their concepts to life to be sure that we are taking all the necessary steps,” she said. “This is new for everyone so we’re working through the process very closely together.”
Glencoe’s willingness to cooperate with its local restaurants is the latest example of its support to the village’s local business community.
“One of the village’s core strategic priorities is commercial vitality,” Tanner said. “We try to work very closely with our business community to stay engaged and understand how the pandemic is impacting their operations and to learn how we can be a good partner to the extent that there are things we can do to be helpful. And even outside of the pandemic, we always want to be a good partner with our business community. We’re very proud of our business community and are very interested in its continued success.”
Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.