With Governor J.B. Pritzker’s guidelines in place for phase four in the Restore Illinois plan, bars and restaurants have been gearing up to re-open their indoor dine-in services on June 26.
New Guidelines in Restore Illinois Plan
Phase four guidelines expand those from phase three, which allowed outside dining. Now bars and restaurants can offer food lovers an indoor dining experience with groups of 10 or less, tables spaced 6-feet apart, and standing areas at no more than 25% capacity.
Though restaurants will still be operating under capacity it’s a welcome change for restaurant businesses, which operate on thin margins.
“It’s very exciting to have indoor space now open with the additional outdoor space with having Van Buren open,” said Catch 35 Marketing Manager Beth Sweeney. “We’re going to be able to hopefully see a big improvement in sales. People can sit where they feel most comfortable. If they feel comfortable indoors, we can accommodate that. If they want o sit outside we can accommodate that, if they want up pickup their food and eat it at home they can do that. If they don’t even want to leave their house we’ll deliver it.”
Like other restaurants Catch 35 will require staff, and customers to wear masks, and socially distance. They’ll also be taking temperature checks for everyone looking to dine-in at their restaurant, and will use disposable menus.
Like Catch 35, Vai’s Italian Inspired Restaurant Kitchen and Bar will still have outdoor dine-in and takeout options available. They’ve also set up glass between booths in the hopes of making customers feel safe with whatever experience they choose.
“We’re trying to do everything to make it comfortable for those people that want to go out and want to go into a restaurant, and those people who still have a little bit of an off feeling about it. They are not quite there yet. They don’t really want to be inside of a restaurant where people are eating without masks on – that’s scary for some people,” said co-owner of Vai’s Anthony Vai.
Both restaurants have taken extra health measures and will wipe down seats and tables after customers leave.
Back To Something Familiar
With business expected to go up during phase four some employees who were furloughed may be returning to their jobs. For Catch 35 restaurant co-owner Sam Berngard that means welcoming back a part of his family.
“In Naperville we’ve been opened for 15 years and some of the employees are still there,” said Berngard. “It will be great, everybody will be getting money to help pay the rent, food, and expenses. We’re all very excited.”
While phase four does expand options for customers looking to dine-in, it may also serve as a step to returning to what life was like before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s so much good that can be had in a restaurant,” said Vai. “Brining that sense of normalcy back to people I think is going to be a really rewarding thing.”
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canzial reports.
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