Chicago picks winning designs for outdoor dining solutions in winter

Shaniqua Juliano

Restaurants in Chicago have a few new ways to continue offering outdoor dining, despite the cold winter months ahead.  On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that three design entries made it to the final round of the city’s Winter Dining Challenge.  Those designs will be developed into prototypes and […]

Restaurants in Chicago have a few new ways to continue offering outdoor dining, despite the cold winter months ahead. 

On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that three design entries made it to the final round of the city’s Winter Dining Challenge. 

Those designs will be developed into prototypes and each of the three winners will receive $5,000 in prize money, according to the announcement. 

The winning ideas include “Cozy Cabins,” designed by Atlanta-based firm ASD | SKY, “Block Party,” designed by urban designers Neil Reindel and Florent Mettetal, and “Heated Tables,” designed by graphic designer Ellie Henderson. 

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According to the proposal, “Cozy Cabins” are adjoining “cabins” with heated flooring. They also “fit within the footprint of a standard parking space,”  the proposal says.

The “Block Party” design is made up of heated modules that can be pushed together to seat several people, or separated, to seat just two, according to the proposal.

Meanwhile, a “Heated Table” is basically a modified Japanese Kotatsu, the proposal said. The tables have a heating element underneath and are covered with a heavy blanket. Another flat surface is on top of the blanket, so diners can eat at the table. 

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According to the announcement, the contest received 643 entries over the course of two weeks. 

The entries were judged by a panel of “architects, designers, chefs, restauranteurs and servers,” the announcement said. 

The competition was made in partnership with BMO Harris Bank, the IDEO design company and the Illinois Restaurant Association. 

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“As we approach the winter months and adapt our COVID-19 response accordingly, we owe it to our restaurants to make sure they have what they need to continue keeping their doors open and serving their communities,” Lightfoot said in a statement. 

Chicago announced three winners of its Winter Dining Challenge on Thursday.(iStock)

Chicago announced three winners of its Winter Dining Challenge on Thursday.(iStock)

“Thanks to IRA and the outstanding creativity of our Winter Dining Challenge winners, we will be able to not only make this a reality, but do so in a way that is safe and showcases our City’s innovative spirit,” Lightfoot added. “I extend a huge congratulations to each of our Winter Dining Challenge winners.”

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Lightfoot also revealed Thursday that DoorDash and the Illinois Restaurant Association will be giving $500,000 to Chicago restaurants “to help cover the costs of winterizing their outdoor dining areas,” the announcement said.

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“Our city’s restaurants are finally starting to move forward, and we have to help them maintain that momentum,” David London, DoorDash’s head of U.S. East & Federal Government Relations, said in a statement. “DoorDash is deeply committed to supporting our restaurant partners and the communities we serve. This initiative will provide critical financial support to keep restaurants going through the cold weather, and we’re appreciative of the City and IRA’s shared support.”

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