The worst outdoor seating area in Chicago

02Jun10

One of the hotels near me has been constructing an outdoor seating area for their restaurant. At first glance, this is no surprise: probably 75% of the restaurants in Chicago offer outdoor seating during the warmer months. But this particular implementation leaves much to be desired, since the seating area is incredibly cramped, and is located mere inches from a busy street. The proximity to the roadway poses several problems:

– Noise from passing cars makes conversation difficult.

– Bad smells from the vehicle exhaust distort the perceived flavors of the food.

– A careless driver could easily swerve a few inches off the road and hit the seating area, turning a minor error into one that causes serious property damage and physical injury.

This makes me wonder: are restaurants really so desperate to offer outdoor seating that they’ll compromise their normal standards of quality to make it happen? Do they really care so little about the brand experience that they’ll herd customers into a seating area that’s noisy, smelly and maybe even dangerous? Sadly, if tourists and even locals are willing to reward this behavior by eating at such questionable establishments, the economics dictate that shoddy outdoor seating is probably here to stay.



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