In the Sauk Valley, reopening day happened to coincide with a Friday evening with clear skies at 70-degree weather.

For bars and restaurants in Sterling, launching into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan meant being able to serve customers outside, and many took advantage.

Champs took advantage of the outdoor seating by setting up tables on Light Street, where steady stream of regulars enjoyed the day.

"I've got a lease with the city of the alley," owner Denny Strader said. "I've had it for about 6 years now, so all I do is set the tables out."

Regulars called about making reservations, but Champs is still first come, first served.

"I hope it's good," he said. "I think people want to get out. I think it'll be nice weather, so I hope people come out."

Over at The Factory Pub n' Grub in Sterling, which has been offering curbside service all along, they opened up the back patio, and things at were a little hectic, but good, manager Tanya Strader said.

"It's just the new way of working," she said. "We're figuring it out."

In order to adhere to social-distancing guidelines, The Factory was taking reservations, and had taken a lot of them.

As soon as the governor outlined the Phase 3 guidelines, people started calling, texting and messaging them on Facebook to see if they could get a table. Today, they came out in droves.

"We've never been pessimistic. We've done very well with the carry-out," she said. "We have very good customers who have supported us this whole way through."

K's Korners, at the corner of U.S. Route 30 and state Route 2 near Como, had a lot of people calling to see if it would be open, and had a tent set up out front for those customers.

"We had to get the tent, that was the biggest thing," Marion Younger said. "We have a friend who also set up the tables. He came through with a 40-by-40 tent and then the tables and chairs and everything."

There might not have been as big a crowd as is typical for a Friday with social distancing rules in place, but K's Korners did drawn in some folks.

"Everybody's just looking to get together again," Younger said. "It's been so long since they got to see any of their friends, a long time to not visit with people."

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