Granite City restaurants ignore state COVID restrictions, reopen in-door dining


GRANITE CITY, Ill. – Some Metro East restaurants are rebelling against Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s COVID restrictions and reopening their dining rooms. The owner of a Granite City pizzeria is willing to face fines because he feels he’s doing the right thing for his family and his employees’ families.

Pizza World announced on its Facebook page it would open its dining room this week.

“I just decided it was time because people are tired of it and tired of struggling and working paycheck to paycheck and not being able to pay their bills,” said owner Ryan Wortham.

Wortham knows some other Metro East restaurants and bars are reopening for indoor dining against state restrictions.

Since closing his dining room Sept. 2, Wortham says he’s been getting dozens of calls every day from customers asking if his buffet is open.

“I have bills to pay and my employees, they all have families and bills to pay, and it’s hard to pay for everything here when (the restaurant) empty,” he said.

Regular customers are coming back.

“Yeah, I’d say probably once or twice a week,” said customer Tony Schroeber.

Wortham says he’d rather pay a fine then continue losing business.

“I tell you what, I’m losing more money every single day than what the fines can be, so if I get fined, I’ve asked with my attorney about it and he’s going to take care of it,” he said.

Customers say they’re willing to shell out more than the cost of a lunch for their friend.

“Oh, a hundred percent, I’m a local business owner too; we gotta stick together,” Schrober said. “We don’t have the backing of other big corporations or anything, so we’d start a GoFundMe page for Ryan or whatever we had to do to make sure this place stays here. This place has been here since I was a little kid.”

The Madison County Health Department is aware that some restaurants are violating the dine in restrictions and is reaching out to put them on notice. The department does have the authority to fine or close restaurants.

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