Chicago restaurant owners struggling from COVID-19 pandemic, make calls to restore partial indoor dining

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago restaurant owners are renewing their fight to turn the tables on the state's indoor dining ban.

Pompei has served the area since 1909.

In all the ups and downs of the Italian eatery's history, this time doesn't compare with other tough times, according to owner Ralph Davino.

"I've never had it this bad at Pompei, and I took over in 1984," said Davino.

Davino stood with other restaurateurs, calling for some indoor dining to be restored.

They are urging city and state officials to make changes in COVID-19 policy so that thousands of Chicago restaurants can reopen January 29, partially indoors.

"It is now critical for Mayor Lightfoot and the aldermen to restore indoor dining to 20-percent capacity and help us keep our longtime employees on their jobs," said Mary Kay Tuzi, owner of Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern.

"We can burden our restaurants to wait and wait, we could be here until April or May," said Roger Romanelli of the Chicago Restaurants Coalition. "We have to forge a new way to be able to let restaurants do indoor dining safely at 20-percent."

One owner said the drop in business resulting in skeleton staff has made them vulnerable to crime.

Jodi Agee said Jefferson Tap & Grille was robbed a week ago.

"Kick us while we are down to have someone come in and violate what is already such a horrible situation barely able to make ends meet right now and then to be robbed it's disgusting," said Agee.

Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have said the threshold to reopen depends on a lower positivity rate. They maintain the indoor dining ban remains in order to keep people safe.
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