Chicago-area restaurant weeks help support local businesses struggling during pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Restaurants are one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, so if you want to support a local business, there are plenty of restaurant weeks happening all weekend.

In La Grange, The Elm restaurant is taking part, along with 35 other restaurants. The Elm is offering a two-course menu for lunch that will cost you $20, or a three-course dinner for $40.

"Everyone is excited, everyone wants to get out, do it responsibly, and just relax," said Dan Spain, owner of The Elm.

Restaurant Weeks are just one way that the industry is emerging from a long winter and even longer pandemic.

Spain is fired up and ready to welcome customers during the weekend.

"With our weather, it's 45 out and sunny, for some reason it feels like it's 60 - it feels great!" Spain said as the sun beat down Friday. "It's such a relief for not only us, for everyone."

The Elm was slated to open in March 2020, but it got caught up in the pandemic closures statewide. Like other places, Spain said the restaurant opened on a limited basis in June.

With Covid-19 mitigations improving across the state, they are preparing for restaurant week and the weeks ahead.

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"To see the joy on people's faces, to be outside dining in a restaurant, and comfortable because it's so spaced out," he said.

All weekend, you can find deals at the 5th Annual Westmont Restaurant Week. McHenry County Restaurant Week is also underway, featuring dine-in and take-out deals.

And for the first time, Chicago Southland launched a week. The Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery is one of 24 restaurants taking part Friday and Saturday.

"We want people to get out there and enjoy those restaurants," said Jim Garrett, President and CEO of Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We're telling people 'Yes, we're open, and all we need is you.'"

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If you're wondering about Chicago Restaurant Week, it's happening from March 19 through April 4.

Back in La Grange, let's just say there's reason to celebrate.

"It's just euphoria almost, we're not there yet - but we're getting there," Spain said, "which is, you know, it's just nice to almost be at the end."

2021 Restaurant Weeks:

La Grange Restaurant Week: February 19 - February 28

Westmont Restaurant Week: February 25 - March 7

Chicago Southland Restaurant Week: February 21 - February 27

McHenry County Restaurant Week: February 19 - February 28

Chicago Restaurant Week: March 19 - April 4
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