Chicago restaurants start adjusting to new normal in Phase 3
A trio of Armour Square neighborhood bars and restaurants launched into patio season Wednesday afternoon along 33rd Street — north of the parking lots that usually are home to tailgating White Sox fans, but instead are serving as a staging area for Chicago police officers still bracing for protests.
Mario Scalise said he felt fortunate to come out the other end of the coronavirus shutdown and a weekend of unrest with his Stix ‘n Brix pizza restaurant intact at 220 W. 33rd St.
The restaurant had been handling about a third of its normal business when limited to takeout and had to furlough most employees, Scalise said, but a federal PPP loan helped make ends meet.
“My fear is that some restaurants in other parts of the city just get swamped over capacity, and that ends up setting the whole city back,” he said. “For now it’s just a matter of figuring out how comfortable people are to go out and sit down in a restaurant.”
Ashkan Mokhtari and three of his friends from the nearby Illinois Institute of Technology returned felt comfortable enough to return right away for coffee at Stix ‘n Brix, a regular hangout.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, or anyone really. About three months,” Mokhtari said.
Next destination on the group’s reopening reopening itinerary?
“A bar. I really miss having beers,” Mokhtari said.
Two blocks north, a woman emerged from Velvet Pin Up Hair Studio, 243 W. 31st St., after her first professional haircut in three months.
The Bridgeport native said she’d barely slept the night before in excitement of the long overdue ‘do.
“I put a bra and makeup on for the first time in months. I’ve had my hair clipped up like Pebbles [from ‘The Flintstones’] this whole time,” said the woman, who preferred not to give her name.
She was only able to score a coveted appointment because her friend works there, she said. And it turns out hair appointments in the age of COVID-19 come with their own inconveniences, as face coverings are required for both stylist and customer.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” she said, showing a ring of dye left behind her ear from the strap of a face mask. “But I’m thrilled. It feels great.”
— Mitchell Armentrout
1:50 p.m. First diners return to Edgewater restaurant as city enters Phase 3 of reopening
Caryn Garaygay sipped from her latte, and then her mimosa, at Kanela Breakfast Club in Edgewater.
“I’m going all out today, liquor and caffeine,” she said with a laugh.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time,” she said. A goat cheese omelet with spinach sat on her plate.
“I cook, too, and I got tired of my cooking. It’s the novelty of going out and eating with friends after being cooped up for so long, that’s what this is about, being social again.”
Pacita Castillo-Reiter, sat across from Garaygay, nibbling pancakes. The two are walking partners but their morning strolls, for the foreseeable future, at least, will focus on acquiring calories rather then burning them.
“We are the brave ones,” Castillo-Reiter said of being the first, and only, customers at Kanela Wednesday morning.
The pair sat inside the restaurant’s open front window.
Trevor DeChant, the manager, was overjoyed to have them. Filling orders for carry out and delivery is just not the same.
“You can’t see people enjoying food,” he said. “I know our food is good and it’s comforting to see people share that sentiment.”
— Mitch Dudek
12:41 p.m. Sister of woman who died from coronavirus sues Westchester nursing home
The sister of a woman who died from complications related to the coronavirus is suing the west suburban long-term care facility where she lived.
Rita Saunders, 64, died on March 31 from acute respiratory distress syndrome and COVID-19, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Saunders’ sister, Eileen Walsh, accuses Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center of “years, if not decades,” of mismanagement that contributed to a delayed response to prevent the spread of the virus.
State public health records show 12 COVID-19-related deaths at Westchester Health and 43 reported cases.
Read the full story here.
11:10 a.m. Restaurants, barber shops reopen across Chicago as city enters Phase 3 Wednesday
Shaggy-headed men formed a line outside Father and Son Barber Shop in Edgewater well before it opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Perched on a lawn chair, Andrew Carpenter, 36, worked remotely on his phone as he waited his turn.
It was safety, not vanity, that motivated him to show up early on the first day of Phase 3 of Chicago’s reopening.
“I was hoping to be one of the first, before the barbers have contact with a lot of customers,” he said, suspecting odds would be lower any barbers would have COVID-19 at the onset of reopening their business. “Then I’m going to wait a couple months before I get another cut.”
“I’m also here because it’s getting hot, and my wife really doesn’t like it this big and shaggy. But it’s always good to have a professional appearance as well,” said Carpenter, a real estate agent.
9:53 a.m. Many restaurants excited for ‘new beginning’ — even if open-air only: Customers ‘hungry to get out’
After more than two hellish months of closed doors capped by days of widespread looting, many restaurant owners are looking forward to serving dine-in customers again Wednesday — even if it’s just open-air seating.
“I’m thrilled we can reopen,” said Doug Dunlay, who owns Crosby’s Kitchen, 3455 N. Southport, along with four other North Side eateries that will begin seating diners.
“Every seat is extremely valuable,” said Dunlay, who expects to do about 12% to 25% of normal business with open-air seating in place.
“I think people are dying to feel normal again … anniversaries, dates, family time,” he said.
“And we need this to help jump start restaurants. And we need the governor and the mayor to see we’re responsible and move us to Phase Four as quickly as possible, so we can have people sitting inside,” he said.
“Then again, what if it rains … then our business is back to zero.”
Read the full story here.
8:40 a.m. Judge bars Cicero officials from unannounced visits to nursing home after COVID-19 ‘raid’
Cicero officials cannot conduct additional “surprise visits” at a nursing home where 13 died from complications related to the coronavirus after the facility accused the town of launching “a raid” on its premises last week.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Alison Conlon issued the order Tuesday in response to an emergency motion filed by City View MultiCare Center claiming Cicero health officials violated the rights of its residents by barging into their rooms without knocking and recording them in various states of undress.
Conlon said Cicero officials violated the “letter and spirit” of an order she gave last month, allowing them to make two unannounced visits to the facility after the town claimed staff and residents weren’t following proper guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The judge said during a visit last week, Cicero police officers were “standing guard” outside the facility, officials did not provide identification and recorded video at the facility — an action City View say violates federal and state privacy laws.
Read the full story here.
7:28 a.m. 9 states, DC vote amid coronavirus pandemic, social unrest
Voters across America navigated curfews and health concerns Tuesday in a slate of primary elections amid dueling national crises as Joe Biden looked to move closer to formally clinching the Democratic presidential nomination.
In all, nine states and the District of Columbia were hosting elections, including four that delayed their April contests because of the coronavirus outbreak. While voters cast ballots from Maryland to Montana, Pennsylvania offered the day’s biggest trove of delegates. The state also represented a significant test case for Republicans and Democrats working to strengthen their operations in a premier general election battleground.
The dynamic was especially intense in Washington, D.C., where Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a 7 p.m. curfew as law enforcement agencies and National Guard troops prepared for a fifth night of protests near the White House following the police killing of George Floyd. A large fence was erected in front of the White House and military vehicles blocked some streets in downtown.
In-person voting numbers were down in every state as many voters were encouraged to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet there were reports of long lines, particularly in minority communities in the Philadelphia area, where election officials consolidated the vast majority of polling places to minimize health risks, according to Erin Kramer, executive director of One Pennsylvania.
Read the full story here
Analysis & Commentary
7:04 a.m. A smarter way to trace the spread of COVID-19 without violating your privacy rights
Decision-makers across the country are exploring tools they can use in the battle against COVID-19. The latest device to be considered? The smartphone in your hand.
Many believe that the same phone you use to stay connected with your loved ones, get breaking news and play games might slow down the spread of COVID-19. But using our phones for this purpose is not a quick fix, and it runs the risk of tapping into private data stored on them.
Just think about all the ways you use your phones. All the places it goes with you. All the information you share with it. Now imagine giving the government or another third party access to all that information.
Read the full guest commentary by Sapna Khatri here.