Those who want to dine out can now dine in as suburban Cook County restaurants and bars have gotten the go-ahead from the state to resume indoor dining services.
“I think it’s a great step in the right direction,” said Anan Abu-Taleb, Oak Park mayor and restaurant owner. “I think it shows a lot about the need for these restaurants to come back and be part of the community.”
As of Jan. 23, suburban Cook County moved into Tier 1 COVID-19 mitigations, allowing restaurants and bars to serve patrons inside at a reduced capacity of 25 percent or 25 people maximum per room.
“Twenty-five percent capacity is not sufficient for any business to make a profit, but I think it will allow many of us to stay open,” said Abu-Taleb, who added that it will also allow restaurants to make enough revenue to retain staff.
Under Tier 1 mitigations, all tables must be placed 6 feet apart and face coverings are required to be worn. Bars and restaurants must also close by 11 p.m.
Across the street from Maya Del Sol, the crew at George’s Restaurant are also pleased about the lifted indoor service ban.
“It’s going to help, of course,” said Dennis Konstantos, son of the eponymous restaurant owner, George.
Since indoor service was reinstated, business at George’s has increased, according to Konstantos. They’re doing a similar number of carryout orders but there are also people seated at tables, eating inside.
“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’re just trying to make enough to pay our employees and break even in our bills.”
George’s struggled to abide by the state-imposed restrictions on indoor restaurant service, but the lift on the ban makes Konstantos optimistic for the future.
“We’re being allowed to do what we’re in business to do,” he said. “It gives us a shred of hope that we’re going to survive.”
Abu-Taleb, who owns the Latin American restaurant Maya Del Sol, when asked if he plans to serve customers inside, responded with an enthusiastic, “Absolutely, yes.”