As some of you are beginning to find out, I have a boyfriend these days in the South Loop. A lovely man from the Prairie District. As most developing lovebirds do, we visit South Loop bars near my home at Roosevelt and State and his at Prairie and Cullerton on a very frequent basis. His house is way too neat for me; mine way too chaotic for him. So in addition to being the aforementioned lovebirds, we are also bar flies.
Which is all by way of explaining something I have learned recently about the South Loop: the sidewalks between Prairie District and Dearborn Park literally roll up at 11 PM sharp. (Midnight on weekends.)
I can understand an ordinance
that requires sidewalk cafes to shut down by a reasonable hour so as not to keep the neighbors up. But it's very depressing when our glimmer of nightlife along Michigan, Wabash and other streets in the South Loop comes to a screeching halt every night at the same time.
What's really bad about it is that for at least an hour or two while enjoying the night air on various patios in our neighborhood, we are constantly reminded that the time is coming. The bewitching hour. The moment when the glass slipper comes off, the coach turns into a pumpkin and I become a scullery maid again. (And he a broken-hearted prince.)
The South Loop barkeeps are like crossing guards, hall monitors, and traffic cops all rolled into one. They get mean. "You only have an hour to go out there--how about just coming and sitting inside now?" they beckon. "You want a seat on the patio now?" they ask at 9 PM, as though you are asking them for two hours of free drinks instead of a chance to drink for two hours at top dollar on the street. "You know, you're going to have to come in in two hours--why not get an inside seat now?"
And I can't even begin to tell you what happens as the time for shutting down approaches--and we have the nerve to still be sitting in our prime patio seats enjoying the crisp night air. They grab our drinks, pull the seats out from under us, turn our table over for night storage and give us a shove on our behinds to push us quickly inside.
They are like our parents.
Why? Because they don't want to get fined. According to the bar people who run these places in the neighborhood, if just one person is left behind sipping Scotch, guzzling beer or drinking something even more mild at patio curfew time, the owners of the bars are liable for a very hefty fine. And it must be pretty hefty because they are apparently wlling to push good customers out the door (or just push them around) in order to avoid it.
So there you have it. The good times on our warm South Loop streets end abruptly and unpleasantly every night. Combatting the problem in my case, at least, appears to be simple, though. Sitting on my deck; sitting on his balcony. Instead of sitting on their patios paying premium prices. I organize my Dearborn Park home a little (OK a lot) better; he messes his up a little so it doesn't look like a model home out of Architectural Digest.
Or maybe just visit City Hall to ask my Alderman Fioretti to introduce an ordinance change. That may be the solution. For the sake of South Loop lovebirds and bar flies everywhere.
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