CHICAGO (CBS) — There are new signs of getting back to normal in Chicago – with parts of Navy Pier even opening on Wednesday.
But bars, taverns, and breweries without kitchens are not getting the same green light from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, even though many are open across the state.
One brewery owner told CBS 2’s Tara Molina he is trying to change that, so as to keep local watering holes from going under.
Molina said the sidewalk outside Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Ave., could make all the difference. The owners want to use the space to serve customers, and they’re asking for city help.
From Dovetail Brewery’s corner spot on the city’s Malt Row in the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, Chicago native Hagen Dost is brewing more than beer.
“This is a labor of love,” Dost said.
He calls brewing a balance of art and science – a balance he and his co-brewmaster have been crafting at Ravenswood and Belle Plaine avenues since 2016 – with no plans to stop anytime soon.
But with 65 percent of their business in draft beer and taproom sales gone for months, Dovetail has had to pivot to to-go sales quickly. But now, with restaurants open, Dost said Dovetail will need more than that to keep things moving.
“The business that we’ve created of packaged goods to go is going to go away now because of the other options,” he said.
There is a need to level the playing field and keep them in the game, Dost said.
“We have to ask them not to forget about us,” he said.
Bars and breweries are open across the state, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot isn’t letting Chicago bars open unless they serve food – calling them “high-risk circumstances.”
This is what Mayor Lightfoot said in a conference call on Monday:
“Our view on bars really hasn’t changed – those are high risk circumstances. People who are in bars are there to do what you do in bars, which is, you drink. When you drink, you don’t have a mask on. You’re gathering in small clusters. And so, we are engaging with the bar and tavern industry on a regular basis to come up with specific guidelines when we are ready, but we’re not ready yet.”
When Molina reached out to the Mayor’s office for a response to taverns and breweries requests to open, she was sent a link to those comments.
But brewmaster Dost isn’t giving up. He made this formal request to the city that he hopes will help all of Chicago’s breweries and taverns in this position.
“This is going to help keep us in business,” Dost said.
He will be asking to temporarily move Dovetail’s taproom operations outside. He said they’d serve customers on the sidewalk and parking lot around the brewery – enforcing social distancing, limiting the time customers can spend at tables, and encouraging customers to bring food in.
“I don’t want this to be taken as us criticizing the city,” Dost said. “Really, we’re just asking the city to help out.”
On Tuesday night, there was no date in mind. Dovetail was just hoping for city approval as soon as possible. We’ll continue to track their requests for that help.