coronavirus illinois

‘This Morning Was Unbelievable,' La Grange Businesses Begin Phase 3 Reopening

Businesses are welcoming back customers with new health precautions as Illinois enters Phase 3 of its reopening plan.

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It's a sight that has not been seen in more than two months: people outside enjoying a meal at a restaurant. Remember what that was like?

“This morning was unbelievable," said Chris Manolis, the owner of Blueberry Hill Cafe. "The smiles on the people’s faces. 'You’re open, glad to see you.'"

La Grange restaurants like Blueberry Hill Cafe welcomed back customers with outdoor dining. 

“We’re trying to minimize the things that the customers can touch," Manolis added. "We have paper, throwaway menus, so our No. 1 job is the health of all of our customers."

Fourteensixteen also welcomed back diners, Friday afternoon.

“I think everyone is ready finally, they’re excited," said Jim McGuigan, the restaurant's manager. "It’s nice for them to get out and come back to something that they love.”

The restaurant will only be at about 25 percent capacity.

Fourteensixteen is only taking reservations to stagger their sit-down times and to space their diners 6 feet apart.

Sanitation stations are highly visible and people are encouraged to use them.

“We want to put them at ease. We are in the hospitality industry; the guest is first," McGuigan said. "We want to make sure that they are comfortable coming out to eat, especially being at home for the last two months.”

Retail stores, like Jayne, have 6-foot space markers down on the floor. They also offer hand sanitizer and face masks at the door.

“You can tell there’s some apprehension of just like, it’s day one, how does this work?" said Katie Cummings, the La Grange general manager. "But people have all been in their masks, we’ve been cleaning here, sanitizing, and overall people are just happy to be talking to somebody. They miss coming in here.”

Everyone seems to have missed the aspects of life maybe taken for granted before the pandemic.

Today, it was greatly appreciated. 

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