Suburban Cook County restaurants likely to resume indoor dining Saturday
Suburban Cook County and Chicago restaurants are likely to resume limited indoor service Saturday as key COVID-19 infection and hospitalization metrics in those areas continue to decline.
Illinois Department of Public Health records show the availability of intensive care unit beds in hospitals in both regions has stayed above 20% for longer than the required three days, and the average number of hospitalized patients has steadily declined for more than a week.
If those regions see test positivity rates remain below 8% for the third straight day Saturday, that will trigger both to move to the state's less restrictive Tier 1 mitigation plan -- and that will allow loosening of several social gathering and business limitations, including indoor service at bars and restaurants.
That was welcome news at Don's Dock Seafood in Des Plaines.
"We've had so many people calling and asking, 'Are you doing dine-in?'" manager Natalie Johnson said. "It'll be nice to be able to say 'yes,' even though it will be limited."
The state was broken into 11 health regions during the pandemic. Health officials monitor infection and hospitalization data in each to determine the level of restrictions on businesses and social gatherings needed to slow the spread of the virus.
IDPH officials are expected to reveal the fates of suburban Cook County's Region 10 and Chicago's Region 11 Saturday morning, according to suburban Cook County health officials.
Don's Dock, which operates in a small building at 1220 E. Northwest Highway, had only 10 tables for dine-in service before the pandemic. When that service resumes, Johnson said, the staff probably will set up only two or three tables to ensure social distancing and to leave enough room for people placing orders at the counter.
But the timing is perfect, with Mardi Gras and the Lenten season approaching, Johnson said. Both typically are big business for the restaurant, she said, as people want Cajun dishes during one and seafood during the other.
Rules under Tier 1 mitigation restrictions allow restaurants to offer indoor service to 25 guests or 25% capacity, whichever is less.
Derek Hanley, owner and general manager of Peggy Kinnane's Irish Restaurant & Pub in Arlington Heights, said he's excited to reopen the popular eatery at 8 N. Vail Ave. for dine-in customers. He started calling his wait staff Friday to see who could work Saturday. His supplier will make a special weekend delivery, too.
The pub will open for dine-in service at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
"The phone's been ringing of the hook," Hanley said. "I don't want to disappoint people."
Peggy Kinnane's will be closed Sunday, so Hanley and his staff can prepare for Monday and what he called a "new grand opening."
The Uptown Cafe, 24 E. Miner St. in Arlington Heights, will be ready for breakfast and lunch customers this weekend -- but no more than eight tables at a time, owner Georgene Avgeris said.
Avgeris said she anticipated the status change and asked a server to be ready. However, the restaurant won't have as many cooks or busboys as normal.
"I haven't had a busboy since March," Avgeris said. "I am the busboy."
Customers at the popular family eatery should expect longer than usual wait times, she said, and they'll have to wait outside or in their cars until tables are ready.
• Daily Herald staff writer Jake Griffin contributed to this report.