Restaurants feel impact of lost business amid COVID-19 crisis, despite deliveries, carryout

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Over the last 27 years, Tom Bazanis has built up a loyal following for his chili, burgers and other food items at SRO in the South Loop.

They normally do a strong takeout and delivery business, so he thought he could weather the storm while restaurants in the state are forced to close for two weeks. He was wrong.

"All the large companies have told us their workers are working from home. So the numbers are just not there," Bezanes said.

Since a good chunk of his normal customers in the Loop are working from home during this crisis, his business has disappeared.

He said he's got a freezer full of food waiting until he can reopen. It's a similar story for restaurant owners big and small around the state.

Phillip Walters owns several restaurants, including Formento's on West Randolph. His employees are hurting.

"I feel terrible," he said. "When all our employees were furloughed it was heart wrenching."

At Real Time Sports, it's a double hit. March Madness would normally bring the two busiest days of the year, but since it's been canceled it has left much of the staff out of work.

"It's quite a devastating thing," said Ben Cirrincione at Real Time Sports. "It was really difficult when the tournament cancelled."

The collection of sports memorabilia at SRO dates back several decades, just as do most of the employees. But if they have to close for much longer than two weeks, that could all come to an end.

"Closing the restaurant down and saying goodbye was tough to do," Bezanes said.
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