Illinois restaurants look to turn sidewalks, alleyways into dining areas

Illinois

WATERLOO, Ill. – With pressure mounting, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker will allow restaurants and bars to reopen with limited outdoor seating as early as next week.

Business owners across the Metro East are planning to turn sidewalks and alleyways into dining areas.

Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith visited with restaurant and bar owners Thursday and let them know he and the city council will give the okay to set up tables and chairs outdoors when they reopen May 29.

“I stopped at Sonic today and talked to them. They’re going to open up for some outside seating,” he said. “We’re looking at closing the alleys off, so they can have the alleys closed. We have to have safety concerns about being out in the street.”

Some restaurants have reported business has been off as much as 80 percent during the pandemic shutdown, and that bars that serve only liquor haven’t seen any income.

“Anything. We’re ready for anything right now. I mean, especially us, that are completely closed down,” said Randy Rehmer, owner of Randy’s Double R Bar.

Some owners have used the downtime to remodel and they’re anxious to see their customers back.

“I miss people. I miss customers and miss hugging them and giving a handshake and that seem like it’s going far away,” said Fredi Braho, owner of Frederico’s Italiano Ristorante.

Restaurant and bar owners said they’ll abide by whatever guidelines the governor orders. They’ve been waiting two and a half months to get this partial reopening. They hope they don’t have to wait that long to get the okay to let customers back inside.

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