Four Gurnee-area restaurants to defy indoor dining ban
Despite the ongoing ban on indoor dining, four Gurnee-area restaurant owners intend to open their doors to customers starting today.
In a post shared to their respective social media accounts last week, the owners of Kaiser's Pizza and Pub, Timothy O'Toole's Pub and Restaurant and Stevens' of Gurnee and The Shanty of Wadsworth said they were united in their decision to open to indoor dining at 25% capacity.
"We're all kind of at the point where either we close the doors permanently or give this a shot," said Ed Roman, owner of Kaiser's. Roman said on a good day his restaurant makes a third of the revenue it made before the pandemic.
To combat the spread of COVID-19 and address rising cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker closed Chicago-area restaurants and bars for indoor service in late October. None of the suburban regions are eligible for indoor dining restrictions to be lifted yet.
Roman said the restaurant owners reached out to local officials and informed them of their decision.
"We didn't want to broadside anybody or hide in the shadows," Roman said. "We're nervous, obviously. It's not like we're trying to pick a fight with the governor."
Jack Linehan, the assistant to the Gurnee village administrator, confirmed that the mayor and the village staff had been made aware of the restaurant owners' plan. In response, Linehan said the village would follow a policy outlined in a video by Mayor Kristina Kovarik after Pritzker's order in October.
Kovarik said if a resident complains to the village about a business that defies state restrictions, a Gurnee official will visit the business and inform the owner of the governor's order. The complaint will be logged, but the village will not take further action. In addition, the village will refer the resident to the Lake County Health Department, which maintains a reporting tool on its website.
Linehan said Thursday the village appreciates the dedication to safety that the restaurant community has taken during COVID-19.
Roman said when the restaurants open Friday the tables will be properly spaced out, guests will be required to wear masks, employees will have their temperature checked and no one will be allowed to work while sick.