UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — After a long winter and unpredictable spring, Chicagoans are flocking to the city’s many rooftops and patios to take in a meal. That’s why that’s why local establishments are excited to offer, for the first time ever, their own patio for outdoor dining this season- a card table next to a dumpster.
“We know how important it is for Chicagoans to be outside when they have the chance, so we wanted to provide them with the opportunity to enjoy a bite with us outside,” says Lizzie Donchez, owner and head chef at Lizzie’s Kitchen. “And customers shouldn’t be deterred by the dripping, hot garbage housed in the dumpster eighteen inches away.”
“We never take out the trash during service.” she says. “There is a lot of trash in there. You just won’t see us put it in there while you’re eating.”
The space consists of just one card table, with one leg inexplicably shorter than the other three. “It wobbles some, but it works,” Donchez promises. Surrounding the table are four white plastic chairs that she used to use to mark dibs in front of her home. It provides a welcoming space for patrons and stray cats alike, with the latter spending a lot of time fighting and breeding on the opposite side of the dumpster.
Being tucked away from the street traffic makes for an intimate affair in the alleyway, great for a date night.
“There’s less cars, but when one does roll through they usually stop and ask you why you’re there, which is exactly what patios are missing in this city” says Ian Lemon, 33, regular patron of Lizzie’s Kitchen, adding, “a conversation with a stranger while I’m eating is always a treat.”
And as for the ambiance? Many diners are finding it fitting of a classic Windy City patio. The Chicago Genius was able to speak to one employee taking a cigarette break just to the left of the patio. They explained that some customers are waiting over an hour to eat next to the dumpster.
“People are dead set on sitting outside, and with a set up like ours I think it’s justified.”
“The rats are surprisingly small for a restaurant alleyway,” said Emily McGill, a Lizzie’s Kitchen regular. “I mean, sure, it smells like roadkill and bad weed back here, but it’s open mic night inside.”