CHICAGO (CBS) — Love is still in the air, despite the frigid temps, with diners marking Valentine’s Day flocking to restaurants. And as CBS 2’s Steven Graves tells us, owners are just as excited.
Temps are heading into the negatives tonight, but restaurant owners are finding a positives, especially now that they can let customers dine inside during a holiday weekend, when they could really use the business.READ MORE: At Least 2 Killed, 17 Wounded In Weekend Shootings In Chicago
“It’s huge, because it’s February. This is generally one of our slower months of the year, and so to have a holiday like this is really important to get people in,” said Mary Kay Tuzi owner of Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern in Old Town.
Reservations filled up quickly this weekend at Twin Anchors. It was a mix of diners on dates and families on evening outings Friday and Saturday night – the big money makers ahead of Valentine’s day on Sunday.
Despite high demand, COVID precautions are still in place; booths are separated by plastic dividers, tables must be at least six feet apart, no one is allowed at the bar, and masks are required if people are not eating or drinking.
“We’ve got to be very careful about how we space the tables out,” Tuzi said.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Storms Coming Sunday
Capacity limits are a balancing act as right now the city allows a maximum of 25% normal capacity, or 50 people per room or floor, whichever is less. That’s up from a maximum of 25 people per room before the city eased restrictions on Thursday.
Since Twin Anchors has a small dining room, they’re seating about two dozen people at a time.
“We do have, every once in a while, somebody say ‘Are you going to be serving outside again?’ and I’ll look at them and say, ‘Not yet. Maybe when it gets a little bit warmer,’” Tuzi said.
Restaurant owners have said they will continue to push for more capacity as the days and months go on.MORE NEWS: 43rd Annual Puerto Rican People's Parade Marches Through Humboldt Park
The Chicago Department of Public Health has said it hopes to expand capacity at restaurants and bars to 50% in the near future.