Local restaurant owner prepares to open indoor dining after mitigation restrictions ease

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Some local restaurant owners say they’re excited to finally be able to move into tier one mitigations under the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Region Two moved into tier one on Sunday afternoon after state health officials say the area met the metrics needed.

Mike Johnstone, co-owner of Hickory River Smokehouse in Peoria, says he was not expecting the news to come Sunday afternoon.

He says he’s now quickly getting his restaurant ready to welcome guests back inside.

“We’re definitely excited, this has been a long time coming. Never in a million years did I think we were going to have our dining room closed for essentially 10 months without having customers in here. I’m extremely thankful that things are getting better and that we’re gonna be able to open back up to the public,” said Johnstone.

He says he plans to go back to regular hours with the mitigation changes and says it’ll help increase business.

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