O’FALLON, Ill. – John Van Cleave is VP with HMA Management. The company operates the Regency Conference Center in O’Fallon.
“This facility can hold up to a thousand people,” said Van Cleave as he stood in the middle of an empty banquet room. The center will operate in a very limited capacity. The new restrictions cap the number of people who can gather at the center at 25.
The restrictions announced Tuesday will go into effect at 11 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Limiting it to 25 just isn’t fair for anybody involved,” said Van Cleave.
He said the temporary closure will affect more than 40 employees.
“That’s just not fair to them,” he said. Van Cleave has launched a petition calling on Governor J.B. Pritzker to reverse course.
O’Fallon, IL Mayor Herb Roach says he’s heard from restaurants in his community scrambling to adjust to the new restrictions. Dining rooms will be forced to temporarily close and restaurant owners will rely on takeout orders and patio dining if they have outdoor seating.
“We’ve already lost a couple of our small businesses and I have talked with at least 6 of them this week already and yes, they are extremely concerned,” said Roach.
One restaurant that’s thrived during the pandemic is State Street Market in Alton. The restaurant has outdoor seating and a steady stream of customers ordering carryout whenever the dining room has been forced to close due to COVID-19.
“We’ve gained so many new guests because people are talking about how we’re following the guidelines and how we’re taking care of business,” said Melanie Siegel, dining room specialist.
A contactless menu allows customers to view and order with a phone.
“We have the ability to change our menu at the drop of a hat,” said Siegel. She said the system gives the restaurant more flexibility to adjust to any sudden changes. She said owners Terri and Glenn Beaubien have experience adjusting to unforeseen circumstances.
“Terri and “Beau” have had to deal with 6 floods and now a pandemic in the 5 years that they’ve owned this business,” said Siegel.