CHICAGO (CBS) — Bars and burger joints seem to be shutting down for good every week.
The Illinois Restaurant Association predicts 20% of eateries in the state will close because of COVID-19. Morning Insider Lauren Victory found some restaurant owners making the dive into dining during coronavirus chaos.
With a crowd of hungry customers watching, Claudio Velez officially opened his first restaurant. He teared up a little, and then got to work.
Velez, the patron saint of feeding the drunkards, is known as the tamale guy, carting his creation to Chicago bars for decades.
Is he nervous to stay stationary – and open a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic?
“He says no, no worries; we’re fine,” said Tamale Guy employee Pierre Vega.
He’s not only the foodie with faith.
Tavern on the Point in Edison Park opened last month.
Stray Hen Cafe in Lincoln Park served its first brunch in May.
In all, CBS 2 discovered the city issued 225 new businesses a retail /food establishment licenses since April 1.
That includes ice cream, sandwich and coffee shop and mini marts, too.
Almost 60 places applied for the license while Illinois was shut down because of the spread of COVID-19 this past spring.
Ursula Siker didn’t plan to serve her smoked pastrami as weekend takeout only.
Work on her new deli, Jeff and Judes, began in January.
It looks closed – because the virus put her indoor build-out on the backburner.
“It does give me some flexibility to be able to start serving and making income while not having to put in all the investment money into the space,” Siker said.
Also looking on the bright side, the people behind Food On The Run. The Auburn Gresham restaurant opened days before COVID-19 hit and is currently looking for chefs and food prep workers.
There are also businesses that are expanding, like Nick and Vito’s on the Southwest Side.
The 100-year-old pizza restaurant is looking for franchisees.