Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-06-09



Illinois Restaurant Association, operators object to mitigation plan
--From a press release

This article shared 2422 times since Fri Oct 30, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

CHICAGO (October 30, 2020) — The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) and restaurant industry operators and workers gathered this morning for a press conference to discuss the disastrous impact of Governor JB Pritzker's mitigation plan as indoor dining is forced to once again cease throughout the state. The event was held outdoors at the IRA's downtown office building (33 W. Monroe).

Speakers elaborated on the catastrophic effect of the Governor's recent rollback on the state's largest private sector employer and the livelihoods of thousands of workers, as well as the IRA's legal steps in the fight to save Illinois' restaurant industry.

Attendees heard from Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association; Jodi Fyfe, Founder and Owner of The Paramount Group and the now shuttered Eden restaurant; DaJuan Bennet, a server at Tavern on Rush; and Francisco "Paco" Hernandez, a senior server at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse.

Restaurants in Crisis

Toia began the program outlining restaurants' plight since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and most recently, the Governor's extreme mitigation strategy. By Sunday, he stated, approximately 90 percent of the state's restaurants will be closed for indoor dining.

"Make no mistake," Toia said, "Illinois restaurants are in a moment of complete crisis. Closing indoor dining means that the majority of restaurants will no longer be able to sustain their operations. Takeout, delivery and curbside pickup equate to only a small fraction of normal revenue. They are having painful conversations — again — with dedicated team members whom they will no longer be able to employ. And with no broad-based state or federal relief on the horizon, there seems to be no end in sight."

Based on recent survey results, 55 percent of Illinois operators say it is unlikely their restaurant will still be in businesses six months from now if business conditions continue at current levels. The most conservative estimates say that a minimum of 20 percent of restaurants will close nationwide. That equates to 120,000 jobs in Illinois, gone.

Toia also reminded attendees of the industry's status as the most highly regulated when it comes to health and safety, making the industry unfairly singled out for closure in the state's mitigation plan.

"99 percent of restaurant operators have done everything that has been asked of them up to this point," added Toia. "We are sanitizing. We are distancing. We are testing regularly. We are wearing masks. We are requiring reservations. We are taking contact information. We've improved air filtration systems. We've installed dividers between spaces. And so much more.

We all agree that private, uncontrolled gatherings are a leading cause of the rise in cases. Closing restaurants for indoor service will result in the exact opposite of the intended impact of slowing the spread, as it drives people further into uncontrolled, unmonitored private gatherings with few safety precautions in place. According to state data sourced from 'Documenting COVID-19 project at The Brown Institute for Media Innovation', which represents approximately 10 percent of cases through September 2020, restaurants account for only 1 percent of cases statewide.

Restaurants are here to serve, and the IRA stands ready to work with the Governor to collaborate on a more reasonable and pragmatic approach to mitigation that can give restaurants some hope that they can get through this."

Chilling Realities

The speakers that followed provided chilling accounts of how the pandemic has affected their businesses, livelihoods and the circumstances of those around them — from closing restaurants and laying off hundreds of employees to witnessing the struggles of fellow peers. Industry representatives from a spectrum of restaurants attended to stand in solidarity with the IRA and the statewide industry.

Jodi Fyfe, Founder and Owner of The Paramount Group,matt shuttered her beloved West Loop restaurant, Eden, in July as a result of untenable financial losses stemming from COVID-19. Between her private event venue, The Lakewood, and her catering businesses, Paramount Events and Truffleberry Market, business is down 90 percent in 2020.

"We went from 536 employees to 24 and have never worked harder in our lives," she said. "These overly restrictive measures for industries that operate as safely as ours only make matters worse when there is no financial relief from the state and no second round of PPP funding or other supportive measures finalized at the federal level. We are fighting to stay alive every day. Where is the help?"

DaJuan Bennet of Tavern on Rush expressed his fear of the "mass round of layoffs" looming ahead as a result of dining room closures, while emphasizing that there "has to be a way" for the state to allow for continued dine-in operations at some level given the extensive health and safety standards to which he and his colleagues are held. Francisco "Paco" Hernandez at Gibsons echoed these sentiments, adding "Restaurants are a family — we look out for each other, we bring people together, and we keep people safe. Workers like me are ready and willing to continue serving customers in a smart way; we just need the opportunity to do so."

Legal Action

The IRA has repeatedly called upon Governor Pritzker to take a more reasonable and pragmatic approach to mitigation and collaborate on a plan that is less detrimental to the state's largest private sector employer.

"We have heard how precarious and unjustified these restrictions are to the industry and our economy, and it is important that our legal efforts align with the interests of the businesses and passionate individuals who make up our restaurant community," said Toia.

Several lawsuits have already been filed by businesses statewide challenging the legality and unfairness of the state's restrictions. Some have been pending for some time, with active filings in Kane County, Sangamon County, McHenry County and most recently, Cook County. One of those cases, the case pending in Kane County, has quickly progressed and the issues are currently before the Illinois Appellate Court.

In support of these operators and to ensure that the IRA's interests are protected in those lawsuits, the IRA announced today that it is partnering with the Washington D.C.-based Restaurant Law Center to prepare an amicus brief to file in the pending lawsuits.

This and future briefs will assert the industry's position and protect its interests — making compelling arguments that challenge the executive orders, the mitigation restrictions imposed through those orders and the unfairness in which the restaurant industry has been targeted.

"This is brisk, prudent action we can take now to support favorable rulings that are underway," said Toia. "There will be more. It is important for the Courts to hear about our rights, and how we've been harmed as an industry.

The 25,000+ operators, and the 594,000 workers in our industry deserve their day in court."

About Illinois Restaurant Association. Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. The IRA owns and produces Chicago Gourmet — the annual food and wine festival uniting hundreds of restaurants, chefs and beverage experts for a weekend filled with food and drink tastings, entertainment, cooking demonstrations, book signings, interactive seminars and more. For more information about the Illinois Restaurant Association, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

This article shared 2422 times since Fri Oct 30, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Employee fired for using gay slur at Indiana Arby's 2021-06-12
- An employee at an Arby's restaurant in Lafayette, Indiana, was fired after writing a homophobic slur on the receipt of a gay couple, NBC News reported. Craig Gray and John Burns were dining at the restaurant ...

Gay News

FIVE WORTH FINDING: Rainbow Soap, Billy Porter, Honey West and more 2021-06-12
- — Soap Distillery's Rainbow Soap ( To help celebrate Pride Month, many businesses are offering rainbow versions of their products—and Chicago's Soap Distillery is no exception. A portion of proceeds ...

Gay News

Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame seeks members for selection committee 2021-06-10
- The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, celebrating its 30th anniversary, invited the LGBTQ+ community to nominate individuals, organizations, businesses, and allies for the 2021 Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame and the response was tremendous. The Chicago ...

Gay News

Chicago Pride Fest planned for October 2021-06-08
--From a press release - CHICAGO — The 20th annual Chicago Pride Fest® returns on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1-2. The popular LGBTQ+ street festival, organized by Northalsted Business Alliance, is a two-day community celebration of Pride, concluding the day before ...

Gay News

TransTech Social and Linux Foundation offering tech-training scholarships 2021-06-07
- TransTech Social Enterprises—the co-working, co-learning community dedicated to empowering LGBTQ+ people and allies with practical, career-ready skills founded by actress/activist Angelica Ross—is teaming with Linux Foundation ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2021-06-07
- "This is to announce my retirement from touring and from working in the record business. I've gotten older and I'm tired. So it's time for me to hang up my nipple tassels, having truly given my ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Election news, AsylumConnect, Pride business items, 'Bears' 2021-06-06
- In Pennsylvania, in a race between contenders in the Democratic primary for Erie County executive, Tyler Titus—a trans person who currently serves as Erie School Board president—was declared the winner, according to The Washington Blade. Titus ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker issues guidelines for Illinois reopening on June 11 2021-06-05
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — Following weeks of steady decreases in new positive COVID-19 cases and with over 67% of residents age 18 and older receiving their first vaccine dose, Governor JB Pritzker is releasing guidelines for Phase 5 ...

Gay News

SAVOR Punch Bowl Social 2021-05-20
- Summer is approaching and COVID restrictions are being relaxed—and restaurants are among the many types of businesses benefiting from these changes. A recent visit to Chicago's Punch Bowl Social (310 ...

Gay News

LGBTQ-Inclusive Corporate Board Leadership Bill passes Illinois General Assembly 2021-05-20
--From a press release - Equality Illinois and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois celebrated final passage by the Illinois General Assembly of a legislative measure to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion on corporate boards of directors. State law already ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker plans vaccination of workers in commercial buildings as companies open 2021-05-10
--From a press release - Chicago — To further expand convenient opportunities for Illinoisans to get vaccinated, Governor JB Pritzker launched a new program today that offers building workers and returning office staff a chance to get their shot at work. ...

Gay News

Chicago Auto Show to return to McCormick Place in July 2021-05-04
- On May 4, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined elected officials, tourism backers and labor leaders to announce the return of the annual Chicago Auto Show. The event—the nation's largest and ...

Gay News

Northalsted plans to hold Market Days Aug. 6-8 2021-05-04
- The Northalsted Business Alliance plans to host Market Days August 6-8, adding a Friday night edition, the first in its 38-year history. As vaccinations increase and Illinois begins planning for stage 5 reopening, organizers of the ...

Gay News

Chicago restaurants receive Michelin stars 2021-04-29
- Local restaurants, old and new, received Michelin stars April 29, according to a Chicago Tribune article. The Michelin Guide's annual ratings play a significant role in anointing restaurant industry royalty ...

Gay News

Navy Pier to begin phased reopening April 30 2021-04-28
- Navy Pier will begin its phased reopening Friday, April 30, restoring public access to select outdoor spaces and attractions and cautiously resuming partial operations with public health and safety at the forefront. As part of this ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.