CHICAGO (CBS) — In Chicago’s suburbs Phase 3 of the governor’s reopen kicks in Friday. Restaurants that can and have suburban city hall support are expanding their outdoor footprints, hoping to make up for lucrative lost time. Demand for big tops has been a flop in 2020 until now with restaurateurs eager to seat people under them.
“It goes from zero to 100 within a couple days,” said John Bakovich of J&J Tent and Party Rentals.
In Hoffman Estates at 1st Place Sports Bar and Grill, sales are 5% of what they were last year. Starting Friday they are adding outdoor seating in the parking lot and banking on a sales spike.
“We are crazy hungry to try to get something going here,” said David Pedersen.
“We hope even like an increase to 20 gets our foot in the door to get back to being normal,” said Lisa Spentzos.
Normal has been nauseating for Bakovich in the tent rental sector. Sales have been ice cold from Cinco de Mayo clear through graduation season.
“We haven’t had work in two months, and now full speed ahead!” said Bakovich.
He’s renting tents six at a time for restaurants look to cash in on Phase 3.
“We’re just trying not to turn down any business,” he said.
His entire workforce is family.
“I have to worry about my family first,” he said.
Just hours from welcoming guests back, restaurant owners were concerned about managing demand for restaurant regulars wanting to break cabin fever but not social distancing rules.
“If we do get a great response from our loyal customers, it’s going to be tough to make everybody happy and go by the guidelines. We’re going to have to turn people away in my opinion,” said Spentzos.
Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that if all goes well the state will move into Phase 4 June 26. Phase 4 allows gatherings of up to 50 people, restaurants and bars reopen under safety guidance from IDPH, and childcare and schools reopen under guidance from IDPH.