Restaurant and bar indoor service ban already hitting Illinois small businesses hard

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COLUMBIA, Ill. – Restaurants and bars are taking a hit Monday after Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered them closed to the public by the end of business Monday night until March 30.

This affects all restaurants and bars, from fast-food chains to mom and pop eateries and watering holes.

Signs are up in windows alerting customers to the big changes. Most places will continue curbside carry-out service for people ordering by phone or online. Bully’s Smokehouse in Columbia, Illinois was already taking a big hit Monday. It had planned to close at 9 p.m. but the crowd was extremely sparse.

Bully’s has a banquet room for events like wedding rehearsals. There were three cancellations by lunchtime.

Customers are pledging to help. One has a friend who owns Lenny’s in Granite City.

Lenny’s had 600 pounds of corned beef ready for St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday.

“I’m going to order extra, just to cover it,” said customer Mark Warren.

“We’ve all been putting on Facebook, ‘Support your local business, help out your small-town business,’” said Brandy Shoeman, Bully’s manager. “All the big franchises, they can make it. Little places like this can’t.”

“We’ve got a lot of people here who need their jobs; a lot of young girls with school, going to college, they have debt on their student loans,” said manager Judy Matecki.

Waitresses, bartenders, and dishwashers had already been alerted they would not be needed for the next two weeks.

“A lot of people are buying gift cards to help the small business owners or doing the curbside pickup, making sure everybody tips their waiters and waitresses today with a little extra money to help get them through,” said customer Stacey LaCroix.

It’s going to be long two weeks. They hope that’s all. Bully’s workers have dropped off menus at hotels and elsewhere across town, hoping for a spike in carry out business.
Phone-in orders are welcome at 618-281-2880.

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