Editorial: Help your favorite restaurant and stay safe at the same time
It's just so sad.
Sam's of Arlington, a restaurant that's operated on the west side of Arlington Heights for 34 years, closed its doors earlier this week.
Owner George Vassos (who bought it from the restaurant's namesake, Sam Trakas, a decade ago) said the restaurant isn't in a position to make it through the most recent state-ordered temporary ban on indoor dining because it's still recovering from the first shutdown. It was closed for three months at the onset of the pandemic.
Sam's is only the latest closure of locally-owned eateries.
Gene & Georgetti, the oldest family-owned steakhouse in the Chicago area, shut down its 5-year-old Rosemont location on Halloween, because it had fallen behind on its bills. Its 5,000-square-foot grand ballroom has been vacant since the state began regulating the size of social gatherings in the spring. That event space provided half of the restaurant's pre-pandemic business.
Whether large or small, ritzy or cozy neighborhood joints, restaurants across the suburbs and state are suffering, trying to weather the storm that is COVID-19.
We all still must eat to survive, and many of us don't like to cook or are simply no good at it.
For those restaurants that were in a position to develop a robust takeout operation, you can help them weather the storm. Forget the atmosphere for now and order in.
The Elgin Downtown Neighborhood Association -- an organization separate from the city's Chamber of Commerce -- has made it easier to connect residents with restaurants.
According to a recent story by our Rick West, when the initial COVID-19 stay-at-home order was made in the spring, the association created an online portal for downtown restaurants called Elgin Eats (www.downtownelgin.com/ElginEats/).
It includes details on dining and ordering options for all of the restaurants, coffee shops and bars in downtown Elgin. There are menus, online ordering and delivery options and info on curbside and takeout.
The association is promoting the page through social media accounts, Google ads and its 12,000-person email list.
It also has worked with the city to secure curbside delivery parking spots and has helped distribute grant money to help the shift to takeout.
To be sure, many chambers of commerce and municipalities have launched similar efforts.
The one thing we must all remember is that if you have a favorite restaurant and you want it to survive the winter, it will take you to help make that happen.
So light some candles in your kitchen or dining room and turn on some music to create your own atmosphere -- and order in.