New restrictions for Illinois restaurants and bars leaves local eatery owners concerned

Local News

Illinois Dept. of Public Health and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced new COVID-19 restrictions for bars, restaurants and public gatherings. 

All indoor dining and indoor bar service will be suspended starting on Wednesday for Region 2,  which includes Rock Island, Henry, Grundy, Mercer, Knox, Henderson, Warren, McDonough, Fulton, Stark, Marshall, Peoria, Tazwell, McLean, Woodford, Livingston,Bureau, Putnam, Kendall, and LaSalle counties.

Outdoor dining will be required for bars and restaurants with proper social distancing. Bar stools should be removed, and no ordering or seating will be allowed at the bar.  No congregating will be allowed while waiting for a table or exiting. 

Rob Egger, the general manager of the Captain’s Table in Moline said he is worried that outdoor dining will not last much longer. 

“Even though I have a fairly nice outdoor dining area, no one is going to want to sit outside in 35 degree weather,” he said. 

The Captain’s Table reopened after a January 2018 fire that damaged the building and the renovations at that time. The restaurant has been open for 10 weeks with limited indoor seating. With new restrictions, Egger’s biggest concern is maintaining his full staff, which he said will be hard to do with the new mitigations. Although they made cuts for the colder months, since their business shifts with the seasons being a restaurant on the river, he said they will not be able to keep everyone. 

“I have 50 people that I hired and employ every week,” he said. “I am going to have to lose some people that I’ll have to try to get back when things turn around, which will depend on how long we are closed,” he said .

The mitigations will also impact Theo’s Java Club in Rock Island,  a business that is still recovering from the first time they closed in March during the pandemic. Theo Grevas, the shop’s owner, said he is anticipating financial loss. 

“This will probably take a very big hit to our business for the second time,” he said. 

Grevas said it will be a hard time for small businesses in the area.

“I think it’s just going to be just devastating. And I think it’s going to be the end of a lot of small businesses,” he said. 

He said he is unsure of their future.

“I can’t tell you, for my business, how we’re going to do. We’ve got great people here, we’ve got great product, great service, I just don’t know at this moment,” he said. 

Both business owners are looking toward a trying time.

“I don’t know how the future is going to be in the next couple of weeks,” Grevas said. 

Egger said they know the closure will end in consequences for their business. 

“Everytime you lose seating, you lose income and that income definitely will impact the bottom line,” he said. 

Social gatherings and events should be limited to 25 percent overall room capacity or no more than 25 guests. 

The restrictions will not apply to polling places or schools in Region 2. 

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