Restaurants in the Metro East may soon be able to open inside dining again


MADISON COUNTY, Ill. – Folks in southwest Illinois may be able to dine inside restaurants as soon as Friday.

COVID-19 positive testing numbers have improved in Region 4, which includes Metro East counties.

Salvador Beltran, manager of Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant, said they’re ready to celebrate.

“This news is like wonderful,” he said.

The inside has sat empty for far too long. People have been dining outside. It would be an economic shot in the arm to serve customers in Zapata’s dining room.

“We’re excited to be working inside,” Beltran said.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said Metro East counties in Region 4 have made enormous progress in bringing virus positivity rates down.

“Region 4 could see a return to the looser mitigations enacted in most of the state as soon as Friday,” he said.

At Joe’s Pizza and Pasta, they’ve relied on outdoor dining, take-out, and deliveries. Sales are down 25 percent because people cannot eat inside, which the owners hope changes soon.

“I think its huge for us because we have a lot of loyal customers,” owner Dustin Thompson said.

The owners worry as the days become cooler, business could be harmed even more if people can only dine outdoors.

“They don’t feel comfortable sitting outside because of the temperature and that’s been drawback the last couple of weeks,” said Dustin Thompson, owner of Joe’s Pizza and Pasta.

Not far away at Signature Tap House Restaurant and Bar, they had a huge tent put in place Tuesday in the parking lot. Even if the restaurant can offer inside dining soon, management plans to keep the tent in place.

“If we do open back up there’s going to be a percentage of seats you just can fill inside…so this heated tent will fill up the slack,” said Brandon McGraw, owner of Signature Tap House.

McGraw said sales are down 60 percent. They opened back in February when the coronavirus began to take hold in the United States. They were forced to close six weeks later.

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