As of May, 15 months have passed since elected officials suspended indoor dining in Illinois, sending a shockwave through the city. March 2020 was when Gov. J.B. Pritzker made the now-famous executive order to halt on-premise service at bars and restaurants. In retrospect, the emergency mandate signaled a profound change for the service inudstry — a glimpse into a traumatic and transformative era felt by all members of the local industry, from prolific restaurateurs to dedicated dishwashers.
Many found themselves in roles they never anticipated: takeout cook, delivery driver, testing coordinator, mask enforcer. And yet, in the face of numerous challenges, hospitality leaders from across the city have striven to move forward since the early weeks and months of the (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis. They cooked and donated meals to frontline health workers, demanded aid from state and federal officials, and reconfigured business models to be more equitable for employees. They worried, struggled, and fought to emerge on the other side, examining their own identities and assumptions along the way.
Read the insights of these chefs and leaders in their own words, as told to Eater Chicago.