coronavirus illinois

Suburban Small Businesses Prepare to Open, With Limitations, This Week

Bowling alleys, fitness centers and restaurants are among those putting new safety measures in place in preparation to welcome back guests

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Be prepared for changes at your favorite small businesses, as Phase Four of the state's reopening plan will go into effect later this week.

In Westmont, there will be a fraction of the typical number of guests bowling at Suburbanite Bowl, which has been operating since 1957. Only 50 guests are allowed inside at a time, per the guidelines set forth by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

While the pandemic hit the family-run operation hard, they are looking forward to reopening and getting some revenue flowing back into the company.

"Our phone has been ringing off the hook," said manager Judie Anderson. "We just bought new lanes last year. Now making sure they get paid for it is very important to us."

The bowling alley has paid its staff throughout the crisis. They're excited to welcome back guests Friday when the state enters Phase 4 of the governor's reopening plan.

Access to bowling balls will be limited and those that are available will be sanitized between every use. Bowlers are encouraged to bring their own equipment. Employees will wear masks and groups will be spaced out every other lane.

Despite the changes, staff is anxious to get back to some sense of normalcy.

"We just need to open our doors," said Anderson. "We need income."

Revised guidelines allow health and fitness centers to open at 50 percent capacity and offer group fitness classes of up to 50 people with new safety guidelines.

Staff at Spark Fitness in Hinsdale are looking forward to the reopening, and have implemented the new procedures already.

"No one is sharing any equipment, said President, Ted Dres. "We are constantly cleaning, spraying everything down."

Dres has separated his facility into workout zones and is taking client temperatures. He is also implementing a one-way entry and exit through separate doors in the building.

Bars and restaurants may also resume indoor dining in Phase 4 but only at 25 percent capacity.

To prepare, the owner of Citrus Diner in Westmont spent thousands of dollars to install wooden barriers between every booth. They offer menus via QR codes and will sanitize tables between uses.

"Every little step helps. When this first happened, my goodness, it was just bad," said owner, James Romas.

John Dasoqui, the owner of Johnny’s Blitz, has also implemented new cleaning procedures at his pub and grill, known for live blues music.

"Using sanitizers, face masks, cleaning supplies. You name it we got it," said Dasoqui. "We even offer customers free masks."

Dasoqui says through the pandemic, he's seen sales plunge 95 percent. While the bar won't resume live music to start but is hopeful capacity limits are increased soon.

"I wish we could open at 50 percent. We’re an entertainment and blues venue. We’d love to have our musicians back. We’d love to have our clients and patrons back, but we'll make due with 25 percent," Dasoqui said.

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