Local diner hoping to survive post-COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria diner is facing hardships amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s masking order.

Since 1991, Peoria’s The 50’s Diner located in the Metro Center has been a blast to the past for patrons to eat. General manger, Kelly Wilcox said once they reopened their goal is to comply with authority.

“When we first opened back up, we decided we would require the masks,” Wilcox said.

Now owners took to Facebook saying the pandemic and current masking order is drawing people away and the diner could soon become a part of history. Wilcox said “Mandatory Masks” signs were met with push-back.

“It affects us because people don’t want to come here because some people aren’t wearing the mask or others see the sign asking to put a mask on,” Wilcox said.

The diner was forced to shut it’s doors for three months back in March and while they’re happy to be re-open, they’re still facing struggles amid the limitations on capacity. Wilcox said the situation is scary.

“We are down 50 to 60 thousand for a month,” Wilcox said. “Well our rent is the same whether we make all of our money or none of our money.”

Wilcox says all the staff are wearing masks and seats, tables and condiment bottles are being wiped down between every guest(s). Toni Mesley, a regular customer of the diner said she’s been going to the diner for six years and doesn’t mind the new procedures.

“I think it’s looking out for us and we need to do what we can do to help other people,” Mesley said. “It’s not just about us.”

Mesley said she enjoys the welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant and stops in at least once a week. She added that it’s a place feel at home.

“We have friends here, when you come to a place that long then you make friends if it’s a good place,” Mesley said.

When it comes to masks, Wilcox said she doesn’t agree with either side but wishes people could respect one another and support the business.

“I wish people loved us enough to want us to be here after the pandemic is over and would just wear a mask just to their table,” Wilcox said.

The diner is now only open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m on Sundays. If guests are uncomfortable sitting inside, they van request a table outside.

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