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CHICAGO — On Lawrence Avenue in Jefferson Park, the mixers are silent at Sicilia Bakery after 54 years in business.

Fred Pecoraro has worked in the bakery since he was 7 years old. He shut the doors six weeks ago.

“It really went from a decent running business to zero – we tried all different kinds of concepts, home delivery for food, dropping stuff off on people’s steps and you know every day trying to find someone to cover the front counter so we had some kind of an employee.”

Sicilia Bakery isn’t alone. Numbers from market researcher Datassential, shows nearly 19 percent (18.8%) of restaurants in the city have closed since the pandemic began.

The surrounding counties have lower rates of restaurant closures.

  • Cook (not including city of Chicago): 12.4%
  • DuPage: 12.8%
  • Kane: 13.2%
  • Lake: 11.8%
  • Will: 11.3%
  • All Chicagoland counties (minus the city): 12.3%

“Our accountant told us we were crazy a year and a half ago for even trying to stay open,” Pecoraro said.

While health officials are recommending mask wearing and the vaccine over mitigations for businesses. Pecoraro says – fear is a factor for the future.

“People are scared again,” Pecoraro said. “My dad put his whole life into this neighborhood and uh that came to a stop.”

Elsewhere in the city, it was reported Thursday that a staple before and after Bulls and Blackhawks games for fans, WestEnd, is closing due to the pandemic. A second Ranalli’s location will take over the space.