Bars, restaurants may be just days away from re-opening

Local News

BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Grabbing a beer and a bite to eat at your favorite restaurant or bar may only be a few days away.

The multi-phase re-opening plan rolled out by Central Illinois leaders includes bars and restaurants opening sooner than Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan allows. The Heart of Illinois plan has three stages, in the first one, some businesses can open at 50% capacity. But it’ll look and feel a lot different due to new rules to follow.

The ding and drinking establishments can open as early as next week under this new proposal.

“We are excited about it,” said Assistant General Manager of the Bloomington Pizza Ranch, David Pulliam. “Obviously there are concerns as well on how it is going to operate, it is going to be a learning process, but we are excited.”

One of the requirements includes no buffet tables. That could be tough for the Pizza Ranch, but Pulliam says they have a plan.

“We are looking into doing a team served buffet,” said Pulliam. “You wouldn’t be able to pick the pizza up yourself you would tell us what you want and we would put it on the plate for you.”

According to Maggie Miley’s managing partner Peter Connolly, the requirements will be rough for bars. You must be able to provide contactless payment options, and the amount of people you can let in will be limited.

“With a bar restaurant, a lot of the sales for us are on alcohol so we have lost a lot of business,” said Connolly. “With this opening it gives us a chance.”

However, not everyone is on board.

Shooter’s Lounge in Bloomington typically provides live music in their patio area during the summer, but under the plan that will not be allowed in stage one. The owner says although he’ll be able to open for customers, the additional revenue won’t help much unless things get back to normal.

“My rent is not at 50%, my electric bill isn’t at 50%” said Owner Glenn Corkill. “It’s going to cause a lot of mom and pop places to close down. “I just don’t foresee a lot of people surviving this.”

In addition the venues are not allowed to serve shared table items, they must use disposable menus and they must have different staff delivering and removing food and drinks from tables.

Stage 2 allows bars and restaurants to open at 75% capacity and stage 3 allows them to fully open.

Some Peoria business owners are also on the fence. Sean Kenny owns Kenny’s Westside Pub and he said opening back up has been heavy on his mind, but he understands the health of his staff and those who patronize his business comes first.

“I’m eager to get this place back open but in a safe way so my first concern is my employees health and safety and of course all of my customers and so we’re willing to work with whatever guidelines are put out to us,” Kenny said.

Kenny agrees with the sub-regional re-opening plan, and hopes Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs off on it. Although local leaders said they will move forward with the plan regardless of Pritzker’s approval, Kenny said the risk of opening his business may be greater than the reward. Going against the state order could result in him losing his license.

“We’re gonna have to do what the governor says,” Kenny said.

Iris Leverett, Owner of 7 Strands Hair Salon said without booking hair appointments she has not received any income. However, she said she would rather lose money before losing everything she has worked for.

“I absolutely I’m not going to lose my license for this I’ve been in this industry for 25 plus years…” Leverett said.

She said she would prefer to follow the governor’s order instead of what the mayor and other local officials said they should do.

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