Illinois restaurants brace for colder weather


ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – Operators of The Outlet at Edison’s feel fortunate to have had outdoor space for dining, music, and activities prior to COVID-19 concerns. Indoor dining is currently banned at Metro East restaurants by the Illinois Department of Public Health, making outdoor dining even more crucial.

“It’s all dependent on the weather,” said Travis Saathoff, The Outlet at Edison’s director of operations.

Newly purchased heat lamps were turned on for the first time at the outdoor bar and grill Friday night. Blankets are for sale and a fire pit is being installed soon.

Saathoff said the outdoor business has been steady. It includes space for games such as bocce ball. He said the businesses follows social distancing guidelines requiring tables to be at least 6 feet apart.

The Crystal Garden Banquet and Event Center reports 75 percent of its business has been lost in large part to COVID-19 restrictions. Large events the restaurant would normally cater have been canceled.

“All that business is gone,” said owner Bill Hatton.

He’s created a patio with specialty themed dinners related to a European food tour. Customers enjoyed Italian-themed food and drinks Friday. German and French-themed dinners are also planned. Hatton said he will make more adjustment if COVID-19 restrictions continue into the colder months.

“We might have a fire pit and have people come by for a quick snack and something to drink,” said Hatton. “We’re just trying to do what we can do.”

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