Jubilee Cafe open for indoor dining despite Illinois governor’s order

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KICKAPOO, Ill. (WMBD) — Jubilee Cafe in Kickapoo is open for business. The owner, Jerry Weaver, said the dine-in option was unavailable to customers for 11 weeks. Weaver settled for curbside pick-up and carry out, but said the restaurant was making 18% of usual sales. Now, Weaver is allowing customers to eat inside the restaurant. Upon opening, he received a cease and desist letter from the Peoria County Health Department. Carey Panier, the department’s director of environmental health wrote, “The department received several complaints regarding the operation of on-premise indoor dining at the establishment known as Jubilee Cafe…”

In the letter, Panier also wrote that several banners and yard signs were noted outside and on the building advertising indoor seating. “As per the executive Orders issued by the Illinois State Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on-premise consumption at restaurants and bars has been prohibited since March 16, 2020, and as of May 29, 2020, allows for outdoor dining only for on-premise consumption,” Panier wrote.

After receiving the letter, Weaver decided to keep his business open for dine-in. “The police showed up Thursday and said that we shouldn’t be open and I told them that we could not afford to be closed any longer,” he said.

Weaver sought legal assistance, his attorney Thomas G. DeVore with Silver Lake Group, Ltd. sent a statement in response to the Peoria County Health Department’s cease and desist letter.

Please be advised, you are hereby put on notice, that if you, or your department, takes any action against our client under color of authority, including the threatening of licensure, the same will be met with swift and decisive legal action against your department, as well as any individual public officials specifically participating.

Thomas G. DeVore, Attorney at Law/Silver Lake Group ltd.

The attorney adding, county leaders should be focusing on how to assist devastated small businesses instead of blindly enforcing the Illinois Governor’s executive order.

Weaver said he is elated to have people dining inside again. “People are excited to be able to come in here and get something to eat in a restaurant,” he said.

Gilbert Mooberry, a customer, said the state government has taken the restrictions too far. He prefers dining inside. “The whole thing in a word is wonderful and the flies aren’t invited that’s what I like about the indoor and air conditioning,” he said.

Weaver said he is taking precautionary steps to make sure customers are safe to eat inside. He said the servers wear masks and wash their hands every 30 minutes.

“If someone feels they shouldn’t be here for a fear that they’ll get the virus. I don’t have any sign on my door that says you have to come in but if you feel you can, you can,” Weaver said.

He said he plans to stay open for dine-in despite orders from county leaders and state government.

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