Suburban restaurants struggle to stay afloat during shutdown

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HINSDALE, Ill. — It has now been one week since Illinois bars and restaurants were ordered closed for anything except for carry-out and delivery.

Now, many of the 588,000 employed in the food service industry are facing an unprecedented struggle.

“Usually I come here, sit in the empty coffee shop and dream about the day it’s back open again,” said Cissy Rallo of Page’s Restaurant in Hinsdale.

WGN first introduced you to Rallo a week ago when she served her final customers at Page’s. She hasn’t been open since, but is considering carry-out service this weekend.

It won’t be enough to support the dozen people who work at Page’s, but it’s something.

“This week is planning how much of my personal resources I can drain to keep my employees going, to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads,” Rallo said.

Just a few miles away in Downers Grove, Todd Davis had opened his second restaurant — Foxtail — just two weeks before the COVID-19 shutdown.

“It’s scary. It’s hard. A lot of sleepless nights figuring out how we’re going to weather the storm,” said Davis. “We got the order Sunday.  Monday and Tuesday we shut down just to reload and figure out how to turn ourselves into a to-go restaurant, which we’re not built for.”

Two restaurants. Nearly 70 employees. Now doing just 15 to 20% of their normal business. All of the money after expenses is going back to employees.

There’s also a GoFundMe for staff that’s already raised $6,000.

Davies said he’s not sure what assistance from the government would look like just yet.

“We have to make decisions on a factual basis. I don’t think there’s enough information to know if or what a government bail out would be,” Davies said.

But with many stuck at home, some are turning to wine to ease the boredom and stress.

“People are staying home. After playing your twenty-eighth board game, you need some reprieve from your kids,” joked Sean Chaudhry of Hinsdale Wine Shop.

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