CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s something not seen for months: customers inside shops and outside restaurants.

This as the stay-at-home order ends in the suburbs.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole is Working for Chicago and has more from LaGrange.

In some respects it feels like stepping into a new world.  There were diners at cafes, it was even hard to find a parking space.

Boutiques had their doors open. Store owners said there have not been crowds, but traffic has been steady. And while business has been at a standstill, anyone waling through the door can make a difference.

“It felt like the walls were closing in on me, so it felt like freedom,” said diner Julie Kalloway.

To the masked shoppers purchasing a distraction, change is in the air.

“This morning just being able to go to Starbucks was amazing,” said shopper Courtney Tomczak.

At Bob Davidson’s Blackberry Market, a row of chairs keep diners from venturing deep into his  restaurant.

“I think we are all adjusting and have learned there is a new normal,” Davidson said. “It’s coming in waves. It’s not overwhelming.”

Tables are set six feet apart by a retractable window wall and on the nearby sidewalk.  Workers are in masks,and an order station has been taped off.  Business has been steady but not overwhelming.

“I think people are testing the waters a little bit,” Davidson said.

At design store Whisper Me Home, customer counts are controlled by taking and returning a wooden entry board at the front door. Hand sanitizer is located at the cash stand and high touch areas are frequently cleaned.

“We are a small shop, limiting to eight customers at a time,” said store manager Heidi Morrow. “We’re just reveling in the excitement of being open again and feeling like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The streets of LaGrange were well traveled but not overwhelming, with a mix of mask and non mask wearing pedestrians. Customers were waiting outside and having their temperatures taken at several salons.

Still business is limited by restrictions. Blackberry’s 20 seats are a quarter of their capacity. But on a day when the doors are open again, business owners will take what they can get.

I am definitely hopeful,” Davidson said.

 

Vince Gerasole