Restrictions on bars and restaurants in Chicago continue to be reduced—and for owners and customers, that’s encouraging news.
Since Feb. 16, bars and restaurants have been able to offer indoor dining and drinking at 40-percent capacity or 50 people per room, whichever is lower.
That’s an increase from the limit of 25 percent or 50 people that was in effect for a week.
The changes are part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s roadmap to gradually opening up the city’s economy as COVID-19 cases decline.
At Joseph’s Restaurant in Mt. Greenwood, owner Deb Anderson said the expanded capacity is making a difference and they’re working through the situation.
“It was tough,” Anderson said. “It’s still tough. We are still trying to negotiate and make sure we maintain that social distancing.”
Anderson, who has owned the restaurant at 3123 W. 111th St., with her husband, Charlie, since 2017, said Joseph’s continues to sanitize tables in between seatings.
Anderson was accustomed to always having seating available for guests, but now, she has to make sure tables are available.
Like other restaurants, Joseph’s has needed to focus more attention on its carryout services. She credited her employees for adjusting to that change.
“Our staff has been so flexible,” Anderson said, “whether it was working on ‘to-gos,’ even doing deliveries.”
While her staff now enjoys plating food for the increased dine-in customers, she plans to continue improving delivery services. She said her loyal customer base has been utilizing that service, which helped Joseph’s survive.
“We’re not complaining,” Anderson said. “It’s a new outlet for us to keep getting better at.”
Lightfoot announced her roadmap on Jan. 31. The expansion to 40 percent was possible, she said, because for three straight days, the city reached “moderate risk” levels for COVID cases diagnosed per day, COVID test positivity, emergency department visits for COVID-like illness and total number of intensive-care unit beds occupied by COVID patients. Bars and restaurants can expand to 50-percent capacity if the city maintains “moderate risk” levels in those metrics for two weeks. All bars and restaurants must serve food, and customers can use third-party delivery services.
Updates are provided at chicago.gov/reopening.
Anderson said Joseph’s is open Tuesday through Friday, from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight, and Sunday, 4-9 p.m.
Anderson said she understands that elected leaders have tough decisions to make. She said Joseph’s will abide by the rules as the pandemic continues.
“There’s truth to the science,” Anderson said, “so we just do the best we can to maintain it all.”