After a tough 2020, Houndstooth Saloon owner Stephanie Cook felt a glimmer of optimism about New Year’s Eve as she planned an all-you-can-eat shrimp and crab porridge in the bar’s heated outdoor cabins .
Based on what she described as “a rumor that the city is extending seating” for the holiday, Cook considered a last seat from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., with tickets sold at a premium for the arrival. of 2021 – up to $125. starting at $100 for prior bookings.
The problem? The rumors weren’t true. The city’s COVID-19 restrictions requiring restaurants and bars to close at 11 p.m. would remain in effect, even on New Year’s Eve.
When its Lakeview area chamber of commerce confirmed it on Wednesday, Cook said, it canceled late seating, leaving its previous events untouched.
Cook said she was “extremely” disappointed to lose potential business as the clock struck midnight, especially in a year that has been devastating for many bars and restaurants.
“It’s a bummer because it’s normally one of our biggest nights of the year,” Cook said.
She said she was considering flouting the rules and going ahead with the late seats.
“I thought about it a lot,” she said. “But the outside cabins are very visible from the street, and it wasn’t worth the potential. I made the hard call.
At least a handful of bars and restaurants in Chicago had plans for New Year’s Eve celebrations that flout the city’s COVID-19 regulations. Some were canceled as the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection pledged to enforce the restrictions through the holiday weekend.
The agency “will not hesitate to take enforcement action by issuing citations with fines of up to $10,000 and closing businesses if necessary,” according to a press release.
Girl and the Goat and Avli Taverna in Lincoln Park were among restaurants that canceled events in the days — and sometimes hours — leading up to New Year’s Eve.
Girl and the Goat, the mainstay of the Fulton Market run by chef Stephanie Izard, was selling tickets for $165 per person for a pop-up dinner at the River West Galleria Marchetti event space that included “a multi-course family meal for up to ‘to six people’ and a midnight toast.
But once the restaurant became aware of the 11 p.m. limit, the event was canceled, a restaurant spokeswoman said.
Greek restaurant Avli had planned a modest New Year’s Eve celebration that nodded to the realities of the New Year during a pandemic.
Kicking off at 11 p.m. Thursday, and for $15, Lincoln Park Restaurant was offering “a welcome cocktail, socially distanced seating and access to Chef Fernando’s late-night bites” on its heated patio.
“Black mask attire only,” the restaurant said on Tock, where tickets were sold.
Reached by phone Thursday, Avli manager John Spartiatis said he was unaware of the settlement and would not proceed with the event.
“We would be happy to cancel it,” Spartiatis said. “We will not defy city restrictions.”
Within an hour, the event was removed from Tock and the handful of people who had purchased tickets received an email announcing its cancellation and subsequent refunds. (The restaurant blamed “water leaks freezing on our terrace” for the change of plans.)
In the suburbs, where bars and restaurants are largely free to open beyond 11 p.m., New Year’s Eve events will continue as planned.
Among them is Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove, which offers unlimited charcuterie and beer for parties of up to six people around fire pits for $480. Brewery owner Mike Marr said he sold six of the 12 packages.
“We feel very lucky to be open (for New Year’s Eve),” Marr said. “Every minute we’ve been open this year, we’ve been lucky. The three months we were closed hard – it was a bit lonely here.