Illinois Restaurant Association to vote on lawsuit challenging indoor dining ban

GENEVA, Ill. (WLS) -- All across Kane County, like much the rest of the region, bars and restaurants are once again shut down to indoor dining and limited to patio seating, takeout and delivery only.

But not Geneva's FoxFire. The steakhouse is serving its patrons indoors, after a judge ruled they can keep their dining room open for now -- going against Governor Pritzker's executive order.

RELATED: Geneva restaurant temporarily allowed indoor dining

"We're not suing to be maskless," said K.C. Gulbro, owner of FoxFire Tavern. "We're not suing to fill the whole restaurant to door to door. But we feel we have the right to be open."

The judge's ruling only applies to FoxFire. That's why the Illinois Restaurant Association is expected to vote as early as Thursday on whether to file a lawsuit on behalf of all of the state's 25,000 restaurants.

"If we don't fight, there's no tomorrow, so today's important," said Sam Sanchez, Illinois Restaurant Association.

On a Zoom call today with FoxFire's owner, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady blasted the governor for shutting down indoor dining for much of the state, rather than allowing them to continue to operate at a reduced level.

"The governor is moving the goal post by missing an entire tier that he laid out, that we'd move pull back from a 50% occupancy to a 25% percent," Brady said.

Sanchez, who also owns two restaurants in River North that were looted over the summer, said the situation is clear. Either they as an industry are able to reach a workable solution with the state, or they may, as a last resort, collectively defy the indoor ban.

"If the governor wants to enforce and send his sheriffs and state police to shut us down, well then, we'd be very disappointed because we've been asking him to do that when all the riots and my restaurant was destroyed," Sanchez said.

The governor continues to defend the state's mitigation protocols, saying bars and restaurants are the second most common place people with COVID-19 had been to before testing positive.
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