Suburban Chicago restaurant owners push back as IL COVID-19 restrictions take effect Friday: 'We're fighting for our livelihood'

Saturday, October 24, 2020
Restaurants in Kane, Will, DuPage and Kankaee counties indoor dining closes
Illinois health regions 7 and 8, which include Will, Kane, DuPage and Kankakee counties, are no longer allowed to have indoor dining at restaurants for COVID-19 mitigation.

GLENDALE HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- Tighter COVID-19 restrictions take effect Friday in Chicago and four surrounding counties, as well.

Many restaurant owners in regions seven and eight, which include Will, Kankakee, Kane and DuPage counties, say they don't know if their businesses can survive the new mitigation efforts, and so they might disobey them.

RELATED: Illinois COVID-19 today: IL reports 3,874 new coronavirus cases, 31 deaths

The new rules ban all indoor service at bars and restaurants.

Ki's Steak and Seafood has been in its Glendale Heights location for 86 years, and were concerned they may not make it to 87 if they follow the governor's mandate and close the dining room again.

"We've been struggling. To shut us down again would be crippling," said owner Spiro Roumpas.

Some suburban restaurant owners are pushing back as COVID-19 restrictions take effect Friday, even refusing to close their indoor dining rooms as told.

At 100 South in Elmhurst, the city helped out by closing part of the street for outdoor dining, but with winter on the way that's lost its appeal. And indoor dining is not an option, so for now they are closed for lunch.

"It's a sad day for the restaurant industry. I have no words. It's like a piece of your heart is missing during a time like this," said manager Dominic Ranieri.

RELATED: Chicago COVID-19 restrictions for bars, business curfew take effect as coronavirus cases surge

Almost two months to the day, the dining room of the popular Culver's in Plainfield has been forced to shut down their dining room for a second time. On a normal Friday night, it would be packed.

They're hoping loyal customers will keep coming, for drive-thru and takeout.

The dining room is also closed at Billy Brick's Pizza in Lombard, but they're still making pies by hand. Business is way down, but they are staying afloat with pick up and delivery.

"We're finding a way to operate in this new normal," said Rick Gruber, owner. "To have it taken away again, it makes a long year even longer."

Many restaurant owners said they have gone to great lengths to assure customers and employees are safe. They believe they're not responsible for the recent increases in COVID-19 cases.

"It feels a lot like we've been singled out," Roumpas said.

Some suburban restaurant owners are pushing back as COVID-19 restrictions take effect Friday.

Normally Dino's Cafe Pancake House and Restaurant in Bloomingdale is buzzing on Friday mornings, but it was empty this Friday. It's bad news for places like Dino's that were slowly starting to recover from the first shutdown.

"For the first month, it was devastating financially, we were still able to pay some of our employees, but a lot of them we had to let go; we still had to keep up with rent, utilities, all of that, so we came out of that and here we are again," one woman said.

She said she understands why businesses would want to disobey the state orders, but Dino's will be following them.

Thankfully, their loyal customers are ordering meals to-go, keeping the phones ringing and food delivery employees busy.

Gov. JB Pritzker acknowledges businesses' frustration, but said in no uncertain terms the state will go after those who do not abide by the rules set forth for the next two weeks.

"It is very serious right now, folks," the governor said. "If we need to close down bars and restaurants and take away their liquor licenses, take away their gaming licenses, we will do that."

Pritzker said the state is now on a trajectory to surpass the peak reached in March and April, and while he has hesitated to go after people's licenses in the past, he will not hesitate this time around.

There are also court challenges to the order shutting down indoor dining.