Many rent checks are due on April 1, and some worry that it could trigger a string of restaurant and bar permanent closures, especially now that dining rooms are closed until at least May. Despite pleas by officials, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, for landlords to be sympathetic to their tenants during the trying times, the city and state have not officially suspended rent payments. The Tribune has a rundown of where things stand when it comes to rent. Landlords can still file for evictions, but Cook County has issued a moratorium through May 18. On the state level, the same will hold in place until stay at home ends. Non-essential businesses will now remain closed until May, per Gov. Pritzker's order issued Tuesday.
The federal Small Business Administration is offering financial assistance via programs like loans via its Paycheck Protection Program. The city has its own $100 million loan program funded by grants. It held webinars Monday and Tuesday to educate business owners on the programs. They’ll hold more webinars in the future, including ones in Spanish and English on Wednesday morning. Perhaps the city would record the streams and archive them for easy access. The Illinois Restaurant Association has been working on finding relief for restaurants. The IRA has collected resources for owners on its website.
And in other news...
- The state liquor control commission issued an update this week trying to quash any unauthorized liquor to-go sales. Unless it’s a beer growler, alcohol needs to be in its original vessel — mixed cocktails in a to-go cup are not legally permitted. Julia Momose, bartender at Kumiko in West Loop, wants to change that to give cocktail bars a needed stream of revenue. Despite the law, a few restaurants are still offering draft cocktails in bottles and cocktails to go. Some are even issuing news releases about their liquor specials. An attorney that used to work with the commission has gone public that he disagrees with the ILCC’s stance. He wished the state would allow to-go sales, pointing out New York, California, and others have lifted its laws. This again, feels like the commission’s reluctance to allow happy hour in the state. Worries about drunken drivers fueled fears about happy hour and there have not been any studies that DUI infractions have spiked since the state allowed drink specials in 2016.
- Billy Goat Tavern, the iconic burger bar made popular by a 1978 SNL sketch with John Belushi, is suing its insurance company, alleging it’s entitled to cash payouts from business interruption insurance coverage. That's the type of insurance, in theory, that would protect businesses from natural disasters. Billy Goat is suing Society Insurance, which is also the defendant in a lawsuit filed last week by six Chicago hospitality group. Read more in Crain’s.
- Chicago Police Department’s Near North 18th District (Cabrini-Green, Old Town) have issued a bulletin to food delivery drivers. Police want drivers to be alert for various carjacking techniques as criminals are capitalizing on the increased volume of deliveries. Use common senese, for example, don’t leave keys in the vehicle when making a delivery. Maybe police or the city can next offer tips to delivery drivers, particularly those working for third-party companies, on how to properly social distance. It’s been a widely reported problem, as customers see drivers congregating in front of restaurants or waiting inside without observing the six-foot rule. There are courses for safe delivery practices available.
Attention Food Delivery Drivers Please be mindful when picking up/delivering food for businesses /customers. Please secure your vehicle by parking safely, turning off your vehicle and taking your keys! Thank you for your time and as always be safe out there! pic.twitter.com/ReFxzvaptW— ChicagoCAPS18 (@ChicagoCAPS18) March 31, 2020
- After a staffer came down with COVID-19, Roseland Community Hospital closed its dietary department. Patients then relied on Subway sandwiches and pizzas purchased by the hospital. Charlie Robinson, owner of Chicago’s legendary Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs, had other ideas. After soliciting donations via Facebook, Robinson responded and donated around 100 meals to patients and staff at the safety-net hospital (a facility that serves an at-risk and lower-income population). John Buck Company (the developer behind Hayden Hall) also donated food from Gatto’s, an Italian mini suburban chain with locations in Downers Grove, New Lennox, Tinley Park, and Orland Park also donated. Read more in the Sun-Times.
- The owners of Beatnik, the restaurant and bar in West Town, are cooking 400 meals and donating them to the staff members that its parent company has furloughed. Bonhomme Hospitality’s holdings including neighboring Porto, Black Bull and Bordel in Wicker Park, Beatnik on the River in the Loop, plus Celeste in River North. Bonhomme’s doing that instead of setting up a GoFundMe campaign, a popular tactic restaurants are doing during the outbreak. Read more in Block Club Chicago.
- Kyoten, one of the Chicago’s premier spots for fancy sushi, has launched carryouts. Find an assortment of rolls, bowls, wine, sake, and beer. Chef Otto Phan posted it reminded him of his old days in Texas when he had a sushi trailer.
- Food critic Michael Nagrant has launched a subscription newsletter. Among his topics are tips on takeout and delivery meal choices. It’s called “Love in the Time of Coronavirus.” There are fun reads for folks who are confined to their homes during this pandemic.
- Metric Coffee, the West Town roasters, will be selling a special blend starting Friday to help restaurants. Taking a page from Mr. Rogers, it’s called “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” All proceeds will be donated to restaurants Metric sells coffee too, including Lula Cafe, Cafe Marie-Jeanne, Wherewithall, and Parachute. More will be added. The coffee’s tasting notes are chestnut, red apple, and orange spice. Head over to Metric, 2021 W. Fulton Street, to purchase.