CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicagoans had a new option for dinner Wednesday night – patio dining at some restaurants was back open, and so were some stores.
But just because they can did not mean all businesses chose to reopen Tuesday. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole spent the day talking with business owners.
In Lincoln Square, one restaurant on Wednesday had diners enjoying the sun. But across the way, another restaurant chose to hold back on outdoor dining.
This all came as they entered Phase 3 of the city’s reopening from the coronavirus shutdown, which has coincided with several days of protest and violence.
At Barba Yianni, at 4761 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Square, the tables were socially distanced and head counts were limited. But outdoor diners returned.
“It feels great to be back,” said Kris Solum of Irving Park.
Though kitchens may be humming, many restaurants have scaled back their menus, and wait staff serve up meals in masks and gloves.
“I think it will take some getting used to, but it’s all for the safety of the city,” said Christine Solum of irving Park.
“We have about 60 people on reservations for these tables,” said Anas Ihmoud, the owner of of Barba Yianni.
Ihmoud said in the pandemic, costs have risen, and 75% of his restaurant inside sits vacant. But he’s just happy to be open.
“With other current events, it’s a little tougher than I thought it would be, but here we are,” he said. “We’re ready.”
To guard against continued unrest, many businesses are boarding up their outside entrances. Reopenings for some remained on hold, as Chicago’s restaurants, salons, and non-essential retail spaces enter Phase 3.
“Our capacity is going to be down to five,” said David Trout of Savory Spice, 4753 N. Lincoln Ave.
The spice shop was open for pickup Wednesday, but in the age of COVID-19, the small store isn’t ready for customers to step inside just yet.
“We have to really reinvent how we do businesses the spice shop,” Trout said.
Think of it – the store’s jars and packages are all high touch, and owners are working on a new business model for sampling products. They know it means serving fewer people at a time.
“Anybody at this point is great,” Trout said.
Success for any of these businesses will depend on whether enough customers are ready to venture out in the new normal.
“If that’s what we need to do to enjoy these experiences again, then I am all for it,” Christine Solum said.
Meanwhile in Andersonville, Maggie Finegan said she was “doing the whole deal today.”
“It’s just great to sit back and have someone else do it,” she said.
Finegan was wearing a mask, but she just might have been smiling behind it as she sat for her first mani-pedi in three months at Salon élan Vital.
“It’s a great shop and I was glad to come back,” said Dana Jepson of Ravenswood, who was also visiting the salon.
Nahreen Mando of the salon said she was accepting “just appointments, no walk-ins.”
At Salon élan Vital , masked customers have their temperatures taken, capacity is limited to five people, and Clorox wipes sit next to a complimentary glass of chilled water. But the customers understand.
“It is strange,” Jepson said. “You have to adapt.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said after this weekend’s difficult moments, every business operator she spoke with urged her to go ahead with Wednesday’s reopening for Phase 3. But a 9 p.m. curfew remains in effect due to the unrest in the city, and thus, restaurants will all have to close up shop by then.