Chicago South Asian food was poised to have a moment prior to the pandemic, with several high-profile restaurants opening, with the city’s interests peaking. But now, restaurants serving Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, and Bangladeshi food — among other countries — are at a crossroads. Few have outdoor seating, and the city’s lawmakers were reluctant in offering them aid. They left many restaurant owners eagerly awaiting approvals on permits for sidewalk cafes and other amenities that were needed lifelines.
Still, the community lags as few restaurants along Devon Avenue — the hub for many South Asian immigrants — has few sidewalk patios. These business owners also face xenophobia and racism, some of it perpetuated by a media report that painted the area as a pandemic hotspot. A spike that started in May has subsided and the number of COVID-19 cases in the West Ridge neighborhood is below the city average, according to the city’s novel coronavirus dashboard. Though the numbers have stabilized since April, restaurant owners say the damage from that initial report was staggering.
But these restaurants, like others in the industry, continue to persevere. Some are finding their ways on to delivery platforms to expand their customer base. Others are opening patios using spaces in creative ways. Support these businesses below.
A number of Chicago restaurants have resumed dine-in service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.Read More