Chicago restaurants push to increase capacity ahead of Valentine’s Day weekend

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CHICAGO Restaurants are asking Chicago city leaders for help ahead of Valentine’s Day weekend.

The Chicago Restaurants Coalition estimates that at least 200 restaurants have closed in the city since the pandemic began, with many more still on the brink. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the group begs to increase their capacity before it’s too late.

Increased capacity would mean increased revenue for struggling restaurants. That would be good news for Kim DiPofi, whose family restaurant, Pompei, has been serving families for generations at their Taylor Street establishment. Like most restaurants, the pandemic has taken a toll on business.

“I would say we’re barely breaking even at this point,” DiPofi said.

That’s why the Chicago Restaurants Coalition is pleading with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city leaders to loosen the restrictions still imposed specifically on indoor dining..

“With all the other businesses you feature, bowling alleys, health clubs, other facilities at 40-50%, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be at that capacity, especially that we showed after opening that our numbers went down,” DiPofi says.

While many areas of Illinois moved into Phase 4 of reopening, Chicago opted to make it easier for restaurants to reopen and remain capped at 25% capacity.

“Calling on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the 50 aldermen to increase indoor dining capacity to at least 50% of restaurant capacity or a maximum of 50 people per room by the weekend of the Valentine’s Day this weekend,” said Roger Romanelli of the Chicago Restaurants Coalition.

The mayor said Monday that an announcement on the restaurant’s capacity could be made by the end of the week.

“It’s something we talked about over the weekend and I don’t want to preempt our announcement later this week,” she said.

The Chicago Restaurants Coalition has also called on city leaders to allocate more grants to restaurants hard hit by the pandemic and help fund crime reduction efforts.

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