The city is offering up new help for restaurants that are struggling to survive, but it comes a little too late for Hamburger Mary's in Andersonville.
The North Side "classy-kitsch joint" announced on Facebook Sunday that they will be closing their doors after 15 years.
"It's bittersweet, but like I told somebody, 'it's not goodbye; it's just until I see you later," said former Hamburger Mary's server and manager, Miles Brindley.
The original plan for the restaurant, that is well-known for their drag shows, was to move out of its Andersonville location at the end of the year and relocate but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to switch up that plan.
"It was just unfortunate, the timing of the lease and with COVID," Brindley said. "That, I think, is the kicker. None of us were prepared for that."
Employees said COVID-19 moved up the owners' timeline.
"They decided it's in everybody's best interest. Let's go ahead and end on a high note," Brindley said. "Let's spend our time looking for a new location and we can come back bigger, stronger, better than ever."
The coronavirus has played a partial role in the owners' decision to close Hamburger Mary's temporarily, but for many other restaurants across the city, the pandemic has shut their doors for good, leaving countless others without jobs.
The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation hopes to help those restaurant employees impacted through an initiative.
Starting Monday at 10 a.m., those eligible can apply for a one-time grant of $500.
As for Hamburger Mary's, Brindley said employees were given ample notice and a guaranteed job when and where the restaurant reopens.
"There weren't a lot of dry eyes when the announcement was made," he said. "It still took us by surprise but they've got our backs and we've got theirs."
The restaurant will be open for reservations only until Nov. 1.