WATERLOO, Ill. – A week has passed since restaurants in Illinois have been allowed to open up shop with patio service.
“There’s a lot of people who need to be thanked for all of this,” said Matthew Schweizer, header brewer of Hopskeller Brewing. “I gotta hand it to the city; they did it.”
The city approved the ordinance within 72 hours of the state announcing a reopening plan for restaurants. Restaurants would be allowed to open up but only for outdoor seating. In Waterloo, sections of the streets have been blocked off for seating.
Shortly after the state’s announcement, business competitors came together as well; all of them bringing their ideas to the table.
“James put together a solid plan,” Schweizer said. “He got us all together was asking about what would make the most sense.”
“James” is James Gallagher of Gallagher’s Restaurant. He brought more to the table than just a plan. He put that plan into action.
“James Gallagher and Jared Gallagher made all these picnic tables,” said Nicholas Camarota, an employee at Gallagher’s.
The two brothers made dozens of picnic tables in a vacant parking lot down town. The tables were available for purchase for all downtown restaurants.
“They were running to every Menard’s within the area, putting these all together,” Schweizer said.
It’s easy to spot the picnic tables lining the streets; all to get all businesses back on their feet.
“It’s great. It’s absolutely great,” Schweizer said. “Two months is a long time not to see friends, acquaintances, and your regulars. To see them come back in on the day they used to before was a really good feeling. It feels like we are one step closer to being normal again.”