SPRING GROVE, Ill. (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot cleared Chicago’s bars and breweries to open on Wednesday, after owners waited weeks for a thumbs-up.

But not all of them opened, as some scramble to get outdoor space approved by the city.

It works differently in other parts of the state. CBS 2’s Tara Molina found one suburb giving instant approval – just snap a picture and send it in.

The manager of Brown’s Sip N Go in unincorporated Spring Grove was able to get an outdoor space approved to serve customers outside and within the state’s guidelines, with just a couple pictures and an email.

“To be back at work earning some money again feels really good,” said manager Samantha Jacobson.

All Jacobson had to do was snap the photos of the space and send them to the
Lake County Liquor Commission.

“We have the space,” she said. “Let’s give it a go.”

Brown’s Sip N Go was the first bar to take advantage of the commission’s new program.

“We’re like a ‘Cheers’ bar,” Jacobson said. “Everyone knows each other. We’re family.”

The program is meant to help local businesses that were hit hard the past few months get back on track.

It allows bars and restaurants in unincorporated Lake County, with liquor licenses but no outdoor property approved for serving customers, get that approval quickly. Brown’s Sip N Go had it the next day.

“I got a phone call and email,” Jacobson said.

County officials call the program temporary – a partnership with the liquor commission and the Lake County Sheriff, with all liquor license regulations still in effect.

“Lake County Government understands how hard it’s been for our Lake County restaurants and bars these last several months, so the Board is looking at all opportunities to help our local businesses get back on track this summer and reopen safely,” the county said in a statement.

Jacobson calls it a saving grace.

“All of a sudden we went from Monday maybe opening in a couple of weeks to we were open on Wednesday afternoon,” she said.

After losing all of their business, shutting down and sheltering in place for months, Jacobson said Brown’s Sip N Go is just trying to move forward any way they can – and this move helped.

“This will get us through for now,” she said.

Such spaces are still subject to inspection, and county officials say businesses that break any rules could lose their licenses.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

Tara Molina