2 years after closing, Chicago restaurants still hope for relief

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CHICAGO — Over the past two years, many businesses have had to adapt to survive.

On this day two years ago, bars and restaurants were closed in Illinois due to COVID-19.

“I am directing all bars and restaurants in the State of Illinois to close to the public, effective after close of business Monday evening, March 16 through March 30,” Governor Pritzker said at the time. .

There were 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 13 Illinois counties when things were shut down.

It was only supposed to last two weeks, but for some the COVID-19 restrictions have forced permanent closures.

“You could just walk down any particular street that was once a busy center for restaurants and entertainment, and you could count the rental signs, the black spaces,” said Len DeFranco, owner of Hawkeye’s Bar and Grill. .

At a virtual press conference on Wednesday, restaurant owners from the Chicago Restaurants Coalition urged Illinois senators to help the still struggling industry.

“Restaurants have been called upon by their government to change their business practices, close their doors, restrict, check warrants and vaccine identification, restaurants have scrupulously followed government orders throughout the pandemic, they lost billions of dollars in sales and they were cheated, thousands of restaurants cheated out of federal cash survival grants, someone has to be responsible,” said Chicago Restaurants Coalition President Roger Romanelli.

The coalition said the Biden administration gave $29 billion to restaurants as part of the COVID19 Survival Grants, but that only covered 36% of restaurants that applied.

Restaurant owners say they need a break after two years of tough times.

“It’s taken its toll on small businesses and especially restaurants,” Romanelli said.

More than half of restaurateurs said it would take a year or more before business conditions return to normal, according to the National Restaurant Association.

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