A restaurant in Old Town is accused of ignoring a statewide ban on indoor dining and large gatherings after a video purportedly showed dozens of patrons not adhering to state guidelines on mask-wearing or social distancing.
The video, which has been circulating online, appears to show a weekend party at Lan's Bistro with dozens of people not adhering to a mask mandate or social distancing guidelines.
Neighbors are frustrated and say it's not fair to business owners who are following the rules.
"I’ve lived here four years now, and it’s been out of control the whole four years," said Ashley Fred.
The Old Town resident said she watched from her window as a party bus picked up dozens from the restaurant on Saturday night.
"There will be people sitting on our stoop," she said. "It’s very annoying."
Lan's is located next to a salon. The owner says she consistently finds trash outside her door and hears loud music on Friday nights.
"It is annoying coming in on Saturday mornings and having to step over vomit and cans and whatever party favors end up on the street," said Brittney Lingle, who owns Pink Beard Salon.
"It's kind of a slap in the face to everyone else doing their part."
In a statement, Lan's acknowledged wrongdoing, calling the party a decision 'made in desperation:'
"We have reached out to the City of Chicago to reach a resolution. We have operated Lan's in our community for more than a decade. While we recognize that we should not have hosted the party, the decision was made out of desperation. Covid-19 has ravaged restaurants in our community and many are unable to survive. It was wrong to resort to these desperate actions. We will close temporarily while we consider our options."
According to a statement from a spokesperson with Chicago's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer protection no citations have been issued to Lan's.
"As we continue to deal with the impacts of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, irresponsible actors that hold large gatherings are recklessly putting their community at risk," a spokesperson said. "While BACP was not made aware of this party prior to or during the weekend, this matter remains under investigation, and BACP will continue working hard to crack down on problem businesses that egregiously flaunt COVID-19 regulations and disregard the health of our community."
Using this party as an example, the newly formed Chicago Restaurant Coalition is calling on the mayor and governor to rethink indoor dining restrictions, saying restaurants can be part of the solution.
"Restaurant indoor dining has been closed now for 74 days. Yet, our COVID challenges continue," said the coalition's founder Roger Romanelli, who is also the executive director of the Fulton Market Association.
"People want to gather. Restaurants can help them gather in small groups, and safely, and with oversight from responsible restaurant owners, as opposed to the totally misguided and irresponsible conduct we’re seeing at events like this," said Romanelli, referring to the allegations of late night parties at Lan's.
"This does not represent Chicago restaurants," said Romanelli.
The coalition is calling on city and state officials to restore indoor dining to 20% by Jan. 29. Chicago Ald. Brian Hopkins and chef and restaurant owner Rick Bayless are among those supporting the coalition.