One of the city’s biggest restaurant draws, Time Out Market Chicago food hall, is temporarily closing on Monday, joining a number of other venues in taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Management told workers over the weekend that their last shift “for a while” would be Sunday night, as the closure could last weeks or months. The two-floor food hall’s owners hope to reopen soon and are actively monitoring the situation, according to a news release.
Time Out Market, home to some of Chicago’s best chefs, including Brian Entente of Michelin-starred Entente, John Manion of El Che Steakhouse & Bar, Thai Dang of HaiSous, and Kevin Hickey of The Duck Inn, is the highest-profile restaurant in Chicago to announce a temporary shuttering — a decision that’s been happening with regularity in other American cities. While the city has a number of prominent food halls, including Revival Food Hall in the Loop and Politan Row in West Loop, no others moved to close yet, despite concern that the communal seating areas for food halls could lead to fewer customers. Over at Aster Hall off Michigan Avenue, customers have begun staying away as more downtown workers avoid their offices.
Food hall officials advised Chicagoans to patronize neighborhood restaurants, emphasizing options that would allow diners to maintain social distance. “We would like to encourage everyone to support those local businesses that are able to remain open, in particular the venues of our Time Out Market chefs and restaurateurs which are amongst the best of the city,” a statement from Time Out Market CEO Didier Soulliat read. “Many offer home deliveries and gift cards — now is the time to support them.”
It’s 8am. Every bar has a line. pic.twitter.com/6ffvTgR6L3— Daniel Lopez (@4danlopez) March 14, 2020
On Friday night, Chicago’s restaurants — for the most part — enjoyed decent business. Cook County health department officials have not placed any restrictions on diners, unlike other municipalities across the country. However, Illinois officials have recommended limiting events larger than 250 people, affecting concerts, plays, and other events.
Governor J.B. Pritzker addressed reporters Saturday afternoon and revealed that the state now had 64 confirmed cases of the virus, concentrated in Chicago and suburban Cook County. He also had a warning for St. Patrick’s Day revelers who ignored social distance warnings, as party buses trucked in hundreds on Saturday for downtown Chicago pub crawls. “If you are young and healthy, listen up: we need you to follow social distancing guidelines, too,” the governor said.