Chicago Restaurants Launch #TakeoutChallenge After Dine-In Ban

Eateries use social media to stay afloat during weeks-long closure

Chicago's hospitality community has created the #TakeoutChallenge, a creative way to show diner support for restaurants, bars and cafe's struggling to survive with their doors closed.

The challenge has popped up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, asking diners to share information like where they ate, what they ordered and who they challenge next.

On Monday night, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all Illinois restaurants to close for two weeks to dine-in customers. The industry was hit hard by the move. Many chefs and restaurateurs are openly talking about the precarious future of their businesses and their employees' livelihoods.

"The restaurant business in the USA employs over 15 million people," said Chicago chef and restauranteur Fabio Viviani, who owns Bar Siena, Bombobar and Siena Tavern. "Many of those [people rely on] the day-to-day business operation. So even something as little as a takeout order can make a big difference in the lives of the people serving you."

Viviani's restaurants are promoting their takeout and delivery services on their social media pages. Across Illinois, restaurants are using the challenge as a plea to Chicago's dedicated food scene to keep them from closing.

"Many small restaurant owners and hourly employees won't be able to survive the restaurant slowdown and now closure," said celebrity chef Rick Bayless on Instagram shortly after governor's announcement. Bayless owns Topolobampo, Frontera Grill and Xoco in Chicago's River North neighborhood.

Diners can fill out a pre-made form with information about the food a customer ordered or they can recently ordered or delivered meals on social media with the #TakeoutChallenge hashtag.

On Wednesday, diners were posting things like their burgers, pasta or chicken orders all over the country.

In addition to the #TakeoutChallenge, restaurants also want customers to buy gift cards, providing an influx of revenue to an industry that employs thousands of servers, cooks, bartenders and support staff. The restaurant closures hit especially hard in Chicago, a city known for its culinary scene.

"Few workers in Illinois are more vulnerable than these employees," said Piccolo Sogno chef/owner Tony Priolo in a plea on Instagram this week to elected officials. "Few business are more at risk than ours."

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