Exposing Dining to the Street: Before and After

September 15, 2011 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

As we mentioned during the mayor's race, there won't be a Whole Foods, Publix, Nordstrom, or 10,000 residents beating down the doors of downtown anytime soon. However, not all is lost when it comes to implementing quick affordable downtown revitalization techniques. Better exposing and utilizing what's already there is a solution that will stimulate additional foot traffic and create the unique "sense of place" that everyone claims they desire. Today, we look to Chicago for cheap solutions that open existing businesses out to the street.

Exposing Dining Chicago-Style

With nearly 2.7 million residents, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and well known for its cold, snowy and windy winters.  With such an extreme climate, Chicago entrepreneurs have mastered the art of exposing dining to the street when the weather permits.  The before and after images below illustrate how Chicago restaurants and bars extend themselves into the public realm at such a time.

Examples of Downtown Jacksonville businesses that can't be seen from the street right outside of their walls.  This gives the impression of dead business environment despite the fact that businesses are actually already in existence.

The Chicago images illustrate how sidewalk seating, landscaping and signage can quickly enhance the pedestrian-scale environment.  In Jacksonville, there may be no money laying around for a new convention center, but there's no reason we can't work with and encourage existing building owners and businesses to better expose their offerings to the street to create the unique urban setting this community desires.

Article by Ennis Davis.  Photos by Daniel Herbin.