Oregon community works together on outdoor seating to help re-open restaurants and bars

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OREGON, Ill. (WTVO) — Oregon city leaders are working to help local restaurants re-open and serve customers outside.

“I wanted to make sure that we even the playing field. We didn’t want just bars who had outdoor dining already to be able to do this. We wanted to give everybody a chance to reopen,” explained Liz Vos, the executive director for the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce.

Under the city of Oregon’s plan to support local businesses, fenced-in outdoor dining areas will be established on two-city owned properties. One will be in a municipal parking lot on 3rd Street while the other will be in the drive-thru lane of the old Community State Bank.

“Our role, we feel, is going to be to smooth the path and cut the red tape, so to do that, we’re helping set up outdoor dining areas and beverage areas for the phase three of the governor’s order,” Oregon Mayor Ken Williams said.

On Tuesday, City Council voted to temporarily suspend an ordinance than bans alcohol on city property. The change will allow bars and restaurants, like Cork & Tap, to serve drinks to customers in the new outdoor areas.

“It’s really exciting. It’s something that’s new that none of the local businesses have done. I think it’s actually getting back to older times, where people socialized more outdoors,” explained the Cork & Tap Owner, Jason O’Neil

City leaders said that other bars and restaurants will either set up tables in private parking lots or they already had patio seating available. Candace Rivera is the owner of Hazel’s Cafe in downtown Oregon. She hopes opening up for outdoor seating could boost business enough to allow her to bring back staff she had to let go.

“I’m so excited. I’m over the moon right now with so many ideas, and just being able to collaborate with our other existing downtown businesses. I am through the roof excited to do this on Friday,” Rivera said.

Several local organizations, including Autumn on Parade and River Stone Church are lending out tables, chairs, and canopies to help.

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