Chicago restaurants are still trying to recover

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Data: OpenTable; Graphic: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The James Beard Awards return this weekend for the first time since 2019.

Why is this important: The event draws visitors to the city and showcases our vibrant dining scene.

Yes, but: Even with a focus on fine dining, Chicagoans still aren’t eating as much as they did before the pandemic, according to reservations data from OpenTable.

What is happening: Chicago’s reservation rate on OpenTable is still nearly 35% lower than the 2019 rate.

  • The rest of Illinois is down 31%.

State of play: While the city is still in the “high” risk zone for COVID, our cases and hospitalizations are down, which can ensure more diners.

What else: Inflation makes restaurants more expensive and changes consumer habits.

  • A recent CNBC survey indicates that 53% of Americans plan to cut back on dining out.

The context: Governor JB Pritzker allocated $50 million in grants to help struggling restaurants in his 2023 budget.

If you are going to: The main conductor’s awards are Monday at the Civic Opera House, while the media awards are Saturday at Columbia College.

  • Several related events, panels and parties are taking place throughout the weekend.
  • We’ll be there, so come back for all the delicious stories!

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