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Palos Hills mayor doesn't want bags in outdoor dining areas

By Kelly White,
Correspondent

Whether the Palos Hills City Council grants a restaurant owner’s request to open an outdoor dining area likely depends on how set he is on offering bean bag tournaments.

Ron Lautereach, owner of the Village Pub, 9750 Roberts Road, has applied for a special use permit that would allow him to expand his operation outdoors.

Outdoor dining has become all but necessary to succeed in the restaurant business here in the southwest suburbs, and five establishments in Palos Hills have been permitted to open such areas. Lautereach’s request may be denied, however, because of his desire to hold bean bag tournaments in his would-be outdoor venue. Palos Hills city officials including Mayor Jerry Bennett at the City Council’s committee meeting on July 12 discouraged restaurants from offering “bags” — and any other non-eating activities — in outdoor eating areas. No restaurants or bars in Palos Hills offer any outdoor activities beyond eating or smoking.

The City Council has been approached a couple times by restaurant owners wishing to expand their outdoor offerings, but Bennett would prefer that nothing more than eating be allowed. Alderman Frank Williams (5th Ward) noted Durbin’s, 10154 Roberts Road, offers indoor bean bag tournaments and would like other bars and restaurants to follow in its footsteps, rather than opt toward outdoor entertainment.

Bennett stressed that it is not the bean bags themselves that are the issue.

“It’s not the bean bags themselves,” he said, “It’s more-so the activities that take place out there, along with the bean bags. We would be opening the door to additional activities taking place within those outdoor garden areas besides eating. We would be basically sending out invitations for other forms of activity to take place.

“If we strictly keep it to an outdoor eating area, where people can also go outside and have a smoke, I just feel more comfortable.”

Bennett would not specify what activities the council would attempt to deter, but said many restaurants are located near housing and that loud music and other commotion could be bothersome to residents. Lautereach’s request for a special use permit is likely to be denied if he insists on offering bean bags, he said.

Lautereach acknowledged he does not expect his request to be granted.

“They didn’t say no, but pretty much I got that they weren’t going for it,” he said.

Establishments with special use permits for outdoor dining must adhere to rules pertaining to hours of operation and when music can be played. Any restaurant that violates the terms risks losing the special use permit and closure of the outdoor areas, Bennett said.

Reporter staff writer Whitney Way contributed to this story.