CHICAGO (CBS) — Some bar and restaurant owners are worried that new restrictions put on them by the City of Chicago are just another hurdle as they try to keep their doors open and the weather turns colder.
In the middle of a stretch of stunning September weather, many restaurant owners say they are barely making ends meet. Winter is coming, and the list of closures is growing, including Kroll’s in the South Loop, Lawry’s off the Magnificent Mile, and Southport Lanes in Lakeview.
“It is unbelievably difficult. This struggle is really, really tough,” said Andrea Kardaras, who owns Mom’s Place in River North.
City liquor sales stop at 11 p.m. Establishments close at midnight.
“Something has got to give, and it has to be that timeframe. We need longer hours,” Kardaras said.
Extending that prime bar time would generate thousands in needed dollars every week, but the city is focused on new guidelines released Friday for fall and winter time dining.
Temporary outdoor structures that hold multiple parties must have at least 50% of the sides open to allow air flow.
“Having any open structure won’t work outside,” Kardaras said.
“Tents and other temporary structures may be deemed unsafe and prohibited during severe weather events,” according to the city.
“You have to take it down. Where are you putting it? As far as not having enough room outside, you don’t have enough inside to bring these structures in,” Kardaras said.
But the chill is not just coming from government and Mother Nature. Sometimes it walks in the front door.
“When someone hands over credit card slip after they’re done as they are checking out, and they’ve actually written out there, ‘You would have gotten a tip if you were not wearing a mask,'” Kardaras said. “But, it’s not up to me!”
Others would reduce tips saying, ‘If you didn’t make me wear one you would get more in terms of tips.’
People in the industry feel extended hours are something they are capable of managing safely.
Extending hours is something the City Council is taking up in coming weeks. Monday, the Finance Committee heard about how restaurant taxes in Chicago are less than 50% of where they were last year.
The city’s guidelines for winter outdoor dining released Monday are as follows in the document below: