Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MADE­LINE KEN­NEY, STAFF RE­PORTER mken­ney@sun­ | @mad­ken­ney

Chicagoans will soon be able to en­joy a chilled bev­er­age and de­li­cious meal at their fa­vorite beach­front restau­rants.

Though the beaches re­main closed due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, city of­fi­cials gave lake­front restau­rants and cafes the green light this week to re­open for busi­ness after months of be­ing shut down due to the pan­demic.

That was wel­come news for Reg­gie’s on the Beach, one of at least five beach­front ea­ter­ies that have an­nounced plans to open their doors for the first time this sum­mer.

“We al­ready lost half the sea­son, so it’s bet­ter than noth­ing,” owner Robby Glick said. “And we’re just grate­ful that they lis­tened to us and are let­ting us open.”

Reg­gie’s on the Beach, lo­cated near the Jack­son Park Har­bor, will be the first restau­rant to re­turn to busi­ness when it opens its doors Thurs­day. The other four restau­rants — The Dock on Mon­trose, Caffe Oliva, Cast­aways and Shore Club — plan to re­open Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to the busi­nesses’ Face­book pages.

Beach­front restau­rants pre­vi­ously were not able to open un­der Mayor Lori Light­foot’s or­der that closed the lake­front as coro­n­avirus cases surged in March. Light­foot loos­ened the re­stric­tions in June, re­open­ing the Lake­front Trail for peo­ple to use for ex­er­cise and tran­sit, though beaches re­main off lim­its.

The city told restau­rant own­ers that they will be par­tially re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing their clien­tele off the sand, Glick said.

Glick doesn’t think it’ll be a prob­lem to keep pa­trons off the beaches. How­ever, he’s con­cerned about beach­go­ers who take ad­van­tage of the lake­front when park dis­trictem­ployed life­guards are off duty.

“Peo­ple get that we are just get­ting open, we al­ready missed two-thirds of our sea­son, they’re happy that we’re get­ting open, they know what we’ve been through, and they’ll abide by th­ese new reg­u­la­tions,” said Glick, who’s hir­ing ex­tra in-house se­cu­rity to help pa­trol the 63rd Street Beach as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure. “It’s the other peo­ple, the nonReg­gie’s on the Beach crowd, I’m wor­ried about.”

Along with the beaches, lake­front park­ing lots also re­main closed, which Glick fears might de­ter some cus­tomers from com­ing.

“Our park­ing lots aren’t go­ing to be open, so it’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge for peo­ple to get here, but I think we’ll still do good,” he said. “I think peo­ple will still find a way, and it is really beau­ti­ful at our spot, so it’ll be worth the trek.”

Reg­gie’s is of­fer­ing a shut­tle ser­vice from its South Loop lo­ca­tion to the beach to help ease the bur­den on some Chicagoans. He also said peo­ple can ride their bikes on the Lakeshore Trail or park in the lot on the west side of Lake Shore Drive and then walk to the beach.

Glick said it was frus­trat­ing to see other restau­rants re­open for sit-down din­ing, while his beach bar couldn’t.

“It seemed like a dou­ble stan­dard in a way,” Glick said. “The river­walk is open, the har­bors are open, the har­bor bars are open, but the beach is closed and any­thing on the beach is closed.

“Our restau­rant is right across the street from a har­bor, other har­bor bars are open yet we weren’t al­lowed to open be­cause we were tech­ni­cally on the beach.”

Glick is plan­ning to make the most of the next six or eight weeks left of sum­mer. He be­lieves the city made the right call in let­ting pa­trons re­turn to lake­front restau­rants.

“Peo­ple, they need some pos­i­tiv­ity right now,” he said, “and this will help.”


The Shore Club lo­cated on North Av­enue Beach is one of a few restau­rants that will be open­ing back up to cus­tomers this Fri­day.


A no­tice on the Shore Club’s win­dow lets cus­tomers know it’ll be re­open­ing on Fri­day at 11 a.m.

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