Chicago restaurants soak up unusually warm patio weather, brace for cooler temperatures under tighter COVID-19 restrictions

CHICAGO (WLS) — Local restaurants are taking advantage of the weekend heat to serve as many people as possible outdoors. But the heat won’t last long and it could cause more problems for restaurants.

The good weather is a comfort to Chicago restaurateurs who are now limited to outdoor dining only after Governor JB Pritzker reinstated tighter COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise again across the country. State.

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“It broke our hearts to be closed on October 28, but then Mother Nature said, ‘Let’s work with the Midwest,'” said Jeff Lawler, owner of Geja’s Café in Lincoln Park.

The unusually warm weather has resulted in more customers dining out across the city.

Now limited to just three tables set up on his small terrace, Lawler said the weather was a welcome sight given the uncertainty ahead.

“I saw all types of restaurants busy, windows open, people happy; no coats, t-shirts and shorts. Everyone is relaxing. It’s a blessing in such a dark time,” did he declare.

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For one couple, supporting local businesses during this pandemic is just as important to them as business owners.

“We are trying to go out even more than normal and support local businesses and restaurants as much as possible,” said restaurant boss Nicole Kosirog.

“Small businesses suffering at this point is going to be detrimental to their operations, so anything we can do to help them, you know, keep them open, I think is really important,” her husband Steven added.

Once the temperatures start to drop, creativity will be a key factor in the future of restaurants this winter.

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Lawler said his restaurant, known for its fondue, just started offering customers their unique dining experience in an all-in-one kit.

“We’ll provide the pans, forks, oil, sternos — everything you need to fully enjoy Geja’s fondue,” Lawler said.

Lawler said for his industry it’s now fight or flight, with every restaurant owner making the case for customers.

“There are 5,000 restaurants in this city, pick a few of your favorites and support them,” he urged.

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