CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago bars and restaurants closed statewide in Illinois Monday night – in a move ordered by Gov. JB Pritzker to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina spent the day Monday with mom-and-pop owners making big changes to stay afloat.
When they found out about the closures through the governor’s news conference on Sunday, the owners of Topo Gigio on Wells Street had to make a choice – stay open for takeout and delivery or close their doors for two weeks, or possibly more.
They made their decision to go with the former option for their employees.
For more than 30 years, a cartoon mouse in stripes has greeted Chicagoans
hungry for fresh, modern Italian at Topo Gigio.
“It’s a big family business,” said Frank Reda.
But now, for the first time ever, that mouse won’t be welcoming the public.
“This is critical,” Reda said.
With the state mandate, restaurants can only serve customers through takeout and delivery. That is something brothers Frank and Tom Reda say Topo Gigio has never done.
“In terms of being a delivery system, we’ve never looked at that in the past,” Frank Reda said.
But that’s changing now.
What is behind their choice to transition, in a matter of hours, rather than close?
“We have employees that have raised their families through this restaurant,” said Tom Reda.
It is a choice not just for the Reda family, but the restaurant family.
“We will keep who we can with some measure of pay coming in,” said Tom Reda.
Right now, they join the thousands of other bars and restaurants in Chicago curbing inventory in compliance with an order that took effect at 9 p.m. Monday.
They are cutting back on food orders, and prepping boxes that will keep them going for the next couple weeks.
Topo Gigio does so as many of their neighbors, post notices about closing all-together until March 30.
Their hope? You’ll support your favorite local restaurant until they can greet you in person again.
“Thirty years here, we’re not giving up,” Reda said.
Industry experts say some bars and restaurants won’t come back from this, but here in Chicago Monday night, the focus we’ve heard isn’t on fear. It’s on getting through this together.