Restaurants Adjust to New COVID-19 Guidelines

Jackson Bewley | Loyola PhoenixBulldog Ale House, located steps away from Loyola's Lake Shore campus, uses both its indoor and outdoor dining space to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of restaurants have experienced the brunt of the economic fallout due to the virus. With more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases statewide, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced new, additional guidelines for bars and restaurants in an Aug. 25 press conference.

“All restaurant and bar patrons must wear face coverings, yes, over their noses and their mouths, when interacting with wait staff and other employees,” Pritzker said.

When restaurants first reopened earlier in the summer, state guidelines said employees must wear a mask while working and be temperature tested at the start of each shift. Patrons were also required to wear a mask when entering the restaurant, according to the old guidelines.

New guidelines state it’s mandatory for customers to wear a mask when interacting with any staff member. 

Restaurants are also expected to be hypervigilant with sanitation for the safety of their customers. As an alternative to reusable physical menus, many restaurants have now turned to disposable menus or QR codes.

“We put everything in place from the CDC,” Italian Village restaurant general manager Joseph Deinger said. “We have sanitizer for all of the customers and staff as well as having our tables spaced six feet apart.”

The Italian Village restaurant (71 W. Monroe St.), is located about a mile from Loyola’s Water Tower Campus. The restaurant has only been seating 25 percent of its dining room to ensure six feet distances and reduced its allowed table capacity from ten people per party to six people per party, according to Deinger. It also implemented temperature checks for its customers and wellness checks for its staff.

In Rogers Park, government-mandated COVID-19 regulations aren’t the only contributing factor to limited activity in restaurants. Jill Hollister and Charlie Junke, the general and assistant managers at Twisted Tapas (1146 W. Pratt Blvd.), said the smaller number of Loyola students in the neighborhood this semester has also impacted the restaurant.

Hollister and Junke explained they’ve taken strict measures, specifically when it comes to face coverings, since reopening Jul. 29. Due to the nature of it being a tapas restaurant — in which tables typically share dishes — they highlighted the importance of having strict guidelines in place.

At Bulldog Ale House (6606 N. Sheridan Rd.), the restaurant has been able to utilize both outdoor and indoor dining space. General Manager Alena Darazhei said once COVID-19 hit and Loyola students were instructed to go home, that also meant multiple Bulldog student employees left, too.

Currently, Bulldog operates with around 10 to 15 employees, including managers, servers and cooks on a typical Friday night, according to Darazhei. Pre-pandemic, a busy Friday night would call for 20 or more employees, according to Darazhei. 

The remainder of this year is expected to be a tough one for the restaurant industry. The National Restaurant Association reports restaurants “lost $120 billion in sales” over the span of just three months — March to May. Additionally, this number is projected to jump to $240 billion by the end of 2020, according to the report.

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