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Local businesses throughout Kendall County opened their doors back up for business – some for the first time in more than two months – following all of Illinois moving into the recovery phase of the state's COVID-19 re-opening plan.
Ben Seaver, co-owner of The Law Office Pub & Music Hall, 226 S. Bridge St. in Yorkville, said earlier Friday afternoon that he was finishing up with arranging the bar's new outdoor set-up and making sure operations conform with state guidelines for Phase 3. He said no one will be allowed to go inside the building, but the city helped provide additional materials to businesses like more tables to help accompany more seating outside.
"We're just kind of going into unchartered territory right now," Seaver said.
Seaver said the bar has had zero revenue coming in for the last ten weeks due to the pandemic. Despite that and all workers being part-time employees, he said, the bar didn't have to outright lay off anybody and those workers still had other jobs to support themselves.
Seaver said he's been seeing a mix of reactions from customers who might still be hesitant about venturing out in public and those who have been going a little stir crazy during the stay-at-home order.
“And we’ll probably see them tonight,” Seaver said.
Seaver said the bar, which has been holding virtual shows throughout the stay-at-home order, will host live socially-distant shows outdoors, with one of its first such shows featuring local musician Tim Gleason. He said everyone will be wearing face masks and the business model is going to shift more to table service as opposed to its traditional bar service.
“That’s not really a big deal," Seaver said. "The bar just got a little bit bigger.”
Ellie Vrtis, general manager for Tap House Grill, 123 W. Washington St. in Oswego, said business has been steady since the restaurant opened its doors at 11 a.m. Friday. She said the restaurant set up extra tables outdoors to help accommodate meal rushes come and gone during the first day of Phase 3.
Vrtis said customers have so far been super respectful and accommodating about wearing masks whenever they have to go inside, and staff has been very vigilant about sanitizing everything every half hour, per state recommendations.
"They're just happy to be out and doing something," Vrtis said.
Vrtis said the in-person re-opening comes after the restaurant, which employs 35 people total and has two salaried managers, had to furlough everyone except salaried managers for several weeks. She said most part-time employees who wanted to come back were welcomed back for Phase 3.
Plano Mayor Bob Hausler said he saw a decent amount of people patronizing downtown Plano businesses – including The Friendly Tap, 14 N. Center St., and Pub 4-26, 2 E. Main St. – while he was out and about around lunch time on Friday. He said there also were some businesses who elected to not re-open in person just yet – including Mugshots, 16 W. Main St. – and some of those businesses chose to continue with their carry-out business models for now, for example.
Hausler said the Plano business re-openings come after the Plano City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Monday to allow outside liquor service and sales for city bars and restaurants moving into Phase 3. He said he still would caution everyone to continue following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines, including social distancing of 6 feet or more, wearing face masks and limiting dining parties of no more than six people.
“The last thing that we would want to do is move back," Hausler said.
Donna Van Barriger, owner of Complete Consignment, 142 Indian Springs Drive in Sandwich, wrote in a Monday public social media post that management had to make a few policy changes, including limiting material drop-offs of more than 20 items to be by appointment only and all items being quarantined in a separate room for three days before being priced and displayed for sale.
"We are asking for everything to be freshly laundered and wiped clean," Van Barriger wrote.
Van Barriger wrote their website, www.completeconsignmentshop.com, has more information about items that will or will not be accepted. She wrote she is asking the public to be aware of the new protocols put in place to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
"We look forward to seeing all your friendly faces and meeting many new faces," Van Barriger wrote.
Van Barriger did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment on Friday from Record Newspapers.
Overall, Vrtis said, she wants the public to understand that there are going to be kinks for any business owner, restauranteur or manager to work out as the state re-opens. She said she is asking customers to please be patient in the meantime.
"It's a new system for us," Vrtis said. "We're figuring it all out."