Chicago restaurants push for increased capacity ahead of Valentine’s Day weekend

Coronavirus

CHICAGO  Restaurants are asking Chicago city leaders for help ahead of Valentine’s Day weekend.

The Chicago Restaurants Coalition estimates at least 200 restaurants have closed in the city since the start of the pandemic, with many more still on the brink. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the group is begging for increased capacity before it’s too late.

Increased capacity would mean increased revenue for struggling restaurants. That would be good news to Kim DiPofi, whose family-run restaurant, Pompei, has been serving families for generations at their Taylor Street location. Like most restaurants, the pandemic has taken a toll on business.

“I would say that we’re barely breaking even at this point,” DiPofi said.

That’s why the Chicago Restaurants Coalition is begging Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city leaders to ease up on restrictions still imposed specifically on indoor dining.

“With all the other businesses you’re showing, bowling alleys, health clubs, other facilities at 40-50%, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be at that capacity, especially since showing after opening our numbers have gone down,” DiPofi said.

While many regions in Illinois moved to Phase 4 of reopening, Chicago opted to ease into reopening restaurants and remain capped at 25% capacity.

“Calling on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and all 50 aldermen to boost indoor dining to at least 50% capacity of the restaurant or 50 people maximum per room by the valentine’s day weekend this weekend,” said Roger Romanelli, of Chicago Restaurants Coalition.

The mayor indicated Monday that an announcement about restaurant capacity could come by the end of the week.

“This is something we talked about during the course of the weekend and I don’t want to get ahead of the announcement that we’ll make later this week,” she said.

The Chicago Restaurants Coalition also asked city leaders to allocate more grant funding for restaurants hard hit by the pandemic and help pay for crime reduction efforts.

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