Chicago restaurants ‘joyful’ 100% capacity restored beginning Friday

Chicago News

CHICAGO — The Chicago Restaurants Coalition says they are ‘joyful’ for the industry’s return to 100% capacity for the first time in more than 450 days.

Thanking the employees and customers who helped them survive “the worst crisis in Chicago history,” the restaurant association now looks ahead to Illinois’ full reopening, under the final phase of the “Restore Illinois” plan on Friday, June 11.

“This is a day we’ve been asking for and this is the day that restaurants have been working so hard to achieve and frankly, stay open,” said one member of the Chicago Restaurants Coalition.

Restaurant owners across the city can finally breath a sigh of relief.

“It is a day for celebration and I’m very grateful for the fact that this may be behind us…this pandemic,” said another member of the Chicago Restaurants Coalition.

Members met virtually on the eve of the city’s full reopening, noting the past year has been a rough one for the service industry, with some businesses going under. 

“We have a list of 65 restaurants that didn’t survive. Other publications saying that number could be as high as 150.”

But for those restaurants that survived, lifting capacity restrictions beginning Friday is well earned. One eatery that has never had the chance to pack in the patrons is Lirica, a pan-Latin restaurant located at the end of Navy Pier.

“Lirica opened with the hotel back in late March before Navy Pier fully reopened,” says Stephen Still. He adds that masks won’t be required at the establishment, beginning Friday, for either staff or customers. 

“I think the most difficult part for restaurants is these rules are pushed out and restaurants are the middle man just trying to enforce the rules and everybody has got their own idea of what they want to do,” he said. “It’s become an impossible task for restaurants to manage.”

Yet, they’re ready to get things rolling at full speed. 

“There’s still general uncertainty from guests as to what the rules are,” Still said. “It’ll be nice tomorrow to just not have any rules in place. It’ll be the first time in 16 months that we haven’t seen rules at all in restaurants.”

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