Chicago to Block Off State Street For Summer Pop-Up With Restaurants and Bars

Restaurants and bars figure prominently in a summer plan to close State Street, the famous strip through the Loop that’s home to the Chicago Theater, for a series of pedestrian-only dining, retail, and arts events dubbed Sundays on State. State will be blocked off to automobile traffic starting on July 11 from Lake to Madison to draw locals and visitors to the area for a block party-inspired gathering with food, drink, shopping, art events, and more.

If successful, and the city draws the right mix of crowds and vendors, this could be a regular summer occurrence with city officials teasing they could block off traffic for up to 12 Sundays. The Chicago Loop Alliance is accepting proposals for pop-ups, demonstrations, and classes — by May 26. Restaurant, bar, and coffeeshop owners are among those invited to apply. For example, organizers are looking for vendors like coffeeshops, offering suggestions like cold-brew coffee carts that could sell cooling drinks to passers-by.

Participating restaurants within the boundaries of the Sundays on State event will be allowed to set up street dining without fees or charges for the space. Businesses with buildings within the designated Sundays on State area can also participate, pending permits.

The city will continue to enforce public health guidelines such as masking, social distancing, and capacity caps. When announcing the program last week, city officials said outdoor events would need to abide by a 15-person per 1,000 square foot rule. Over the weekend, several restaurants owners told Eater Chicago they had questions on how the city would enforce the mandate.