In December, an undercover blogger published photos that showed Ann Sather, the restaurant owned by Ald. (44th Ward) Tom Tunney, was ignoring state and city rules by serving customers inside its Lakeview dining room; indoor dining had been banned from late October through late January in Chicago. The news agitated residents and other restaurant owners who followed the COVID-19 rules and though he had no direct hand in establishing the dining bans, they felt that Tunney was a hypocrite as a policymaker on the City Council. Tunney, a former chair of the Illinois Restaurant Association, would say the restaurant allowed a limited number of mask-wearing indoor diners “on a sporadic basis.”
The city has since levied a $2,000 fine against Tunney. The fine was administered at a February 16 hearing, according to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). Ann Sather was issued two citations on December 8 for violating the indoor dining ban. The restaurant faced a maximum of $10,500 in fines.
An Ann Sather spokesperson provided the following statement:
We have settled the matter and look forward to the further lessening of the restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses as the COVID positivity rate continues to fall and more individuals are vaccinated.
Before Thursday’s comments, Tunney was quiet about the matter. He did issue a brief statement in a December newsletter sent to his constituents in Lakeview and Wrigleyville writing the restaurant fully cooperated with the city’s investigation. Indoor dining has since returned to Chicago, where restaurants can welcome a maximum for 50 people to a room. A few restaurant owners who have been pushing for the city and state to allow more indoor diners have defended Tunney, saying times have been desperate for restaurants.
Tunney is the chair of the city’s zoning board and has served as alderman since 2003. He’s also credited for shaping the city’s food truck rules. Critics say those rules were restrictive and designed to protect traditional restaurants, placing Chicago’s food truck scene behind other cities across the country.
Ann Sather, known for its cinnamon rolls and breakfasts, has been around for more than seven decades, a relic by restaurant standards. The Belmont Avenue location is the flagship. there are two more on the North Side. The restaurant has been a popular election season stop for politicians looking for votes.