The Berghoff restaurant in Loop closes temporarily due to COVID-19's impact on foot traffic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Berghoff restaurant in Chicago is shutting down for now, saying there is no one eating out in the Loop amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The family owned restaurant says this is just a temporary closure. The decision made Monday based on very little foot traffic in the Loop.

The Berghoff restaurant is a Chicago landmark, home of the city's first liquor license and one of the oldest family-run establishments in the nation.

The Loop location is closing Tuesday until further notice.

"When you look in your dining room and you're doing 12 people, I mean it's a long, slow agonizing day and we just couldn't afford to keep doing it," said owner Pete Berghoff.

The Adams Street Brewery will also be affected by the closure. The restaurant emphasized that no one has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, it was strictly a business decision and they have been hemorrhaging cash.

"We're down, like I said 95 and a half percent," Pete Berghoff said. "I couldn't really justify keeping open at that rate and I want to preserve the capital we have available to us so when we can reopen, we can reopen."

The Berghoff re-opened on June 30th after the initial statewide shutdown in March of bars and restaurants issued by the governor to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But with little to no foot traffic in the Loop, lunch crowds have dwindled along with happy hour customers.

Nearby courthouses remain closed along and many who work in large office buildings are staying home. There is also a general sense in the restaurant industry that people are not entirely comfortable dining out yet.

"We are working with our congressional leaders on our restaurant recovery act to help restaurants throughout the city of Chicago, really throughout the country, like they have done in the past the way we have done in the past with the auto industry and the bank industry," said Sam Toia with the Illinois Restaurant Association.

And with recent re-imposed restrictions on bars and restaurants many establishments are closing for good.

"Honestly, I don't think you're going to see any major trade in the Loop until you see a successful vaccine and therapies," Berghoff said.

Owners here say they will assess where to go from here, but the cafe location at O'Hare will remain open seven days a week.
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