Keep Supporting Restaurants as Indoor Dining Resumes
Today I dined inside a restaurant in Illinois.
The last time I did so was in October. That's when dining rooms in Cook County were closed per the Governor's directives in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday restaurants in Will County, where I dined today in a quiet, empty dining room, were able to re-open at reduced capacity and tomorrow Cook County restaurants will be able to do the same. Will County had faced another suspension of indoor dining in August after the March shut-down. So some places have been hit really hard - being closed almost as much as they've been open since the start of the pandemic.
I don't completely understand all the region designations and what area they cover and what stages they need to be at and what activities shutdown if they aren't in certain stages. All I know is that for all the restaurant owners and employees, I am glad that they'll have the opportunity to re-open their dining rooms and safely serve their customers. Although some have been able to pivot and continue a robust businesses through carry-out orders, nearly all eateries have seen a huge dip in sales in the past 10 months.
Business owners and servers that I have talked to over the past few months have told me about a couple of issues affecting restaurants and workers. One is that customers were extremely supportive during the initial shutdown - sometimes to the point that restaurants couldn't keep up - but that influx of customers has disappeared. At first there was a thought that things might be short term and there was a lot of support. People were at home and had stimulus money to spend and some chose to spend a good chunk by supporting local restaurants via carryout or delivery. PPP loans helped keep places afloat or at least pay the employees. Fast forward a few months and the enthusiasm and expendable income may have dipped. Now throw in January, traditionally a very slow month in the restaurant world as people are lower on funds after Christmas, are on new year's diets or just don't won't to travel in the cold and snow. So now they really, really need the support to survive. Secondly, delivery services that you order from through apps leave very little profit for the eateries and mean that their employees are missing out on tips since those tips are going to the delivery driver.
A few weeks ago I started a Facebook page called "Pandemic 2020 Restaurant Support: Chicagoland and NW Indiana" to help spread the word about some of the restaurants in the area that really need some help and to try and steer some new business their way. Please take a moment to click here to view the page and like. Please share on your page, too. If you have a favorite restaurant you'd like us to feature, send us a message through the Facebook page.
Also, even when getting carry-out, please remember to tip - and if you can afford to tip generously, do so. Servers might still be working, but their pay has really been hit since they rely so heavily on tips.