Restaurants across Illinois are getting ready to re-open for outdoor dining on May 29, after Gov. JB Pritzker modified Phase 3 in his Restore Illinois plan.
And local restaurants can't wait to welcome their customers back.
Sherri Wilcox Dauskurdas, executive director of Batavia Main Street, said several Batavia restaurants have been pushing for outdoor dining this spring and summer.
"We are in discussions about how best to help businesses that don’t have a current outdoor areas. We are looking at ways to add picnic areas/seating areas to better accommodate these businesses. I am hopeful we can get there," she stated in an email.
Wilcox Dauskurdas said that she believes the community will come out in full force to support the local businesses.
"We may have few opportunities for other ways to come out and enjoy the community for a while," she said. "Patio dining is great step to make us all feel normal again, and a huge gain for our restaurants. But it’s also a benefit to our other retail merchants. Being able to sine downtown keeps you downtown. You’re more likely to stay, wander, hit a store or two. This is a huge step forward for our entire business community."
Margaret Perreault, president and CEO of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce explained that the city of Batavia is working on a recommendation for the Committee of the Whole to approve at its May 26 meeting that would grant Executive Orders to Mayor Jeff Schielke to open the restaurants on May 29.
"The Batavia Chamber is thrilled that the city will begin to allow residents to support our local establishments and dine outside at socially distanced tables," she stated in an email. "Private property and public spaces will be allowed to have seating arrangements. In our town, this will include River Street, the lot planned for the development of One Washington Place and private property alleys adjacent to some restaurants. Restaurants will be allowed to use their parking lots as well for outdoor seating to accommodate customers."
Laura Rush, communications manager for the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, applauded restaurants for being creative the last few months to keep their businesses operational.
"The Geneva Chamber hopes that the outdoor dining rule is a step in the right direction for Geneva to begin to re-open," she stated in an email. As always, we will continue to support our businesses in whatever capacity we are able and continue to promote Geneva as a destination.
St. Charles Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Di Ciaula said allowing restaurants to resume operations for outdoor dining only was an idea that was heavily advocated by the Illinois Restaurant Association.
As part of the new rules, tables must be six feet apart and away from sidewalks and masks and distancing measures for staff must continue to be followed.
"I think it's a start," he said. "We're going to be walking through many doors along this journey. It's not like what we're doing today is what we do tomorrow. I think we're going to learn from other states, we're going to learn from our own experiences and we're going to determine what risks consumers, as well as the businesses, are willing to take and how well they can manage that."
Michael Dixon, owner of Nosh, 22 N. Third St., Geneva, said the shut down really hurt his segment of the restaurant industry. Nosh serves breakfast and dinner.
“The lunch people just got clobbered,” Dixon said.
The reopening of restaurants that can do outdoor seating, while maintaining social distancing, is a good thing for Nosh, Dixon said.
“Two key things right now for restaurants is to take reservations and seating,” Dixon said. “I have a four-season room and an outdoor patio and my own private parking lot. We are going to be the next best thing in all three of those areas.”
Jessica Mauger, a manager at Gia Mia Geneva, 13 N. Third St., Geneva, said the pizza bar’s outdoor patio had been redone and they are moving tables in anticipation of being able to serve outside again.
“We are ready and super excited,” Mauger said. “We remain hopeful. As of right now, until we hear more, we are kind of just playing with what we can, moving tables where we can, waiting for more information.”