Our words cannot fully express how deeply sorry we are for what you are experiencing as a result of this COVID-19 outbreak. This is a difficult time and if you have any questions or need support please contact our office at 847-824-6941.
We are reviewing actions to support the restaurant business. But these resources below may help you navigate:
Mayor Lightfoot is making this a competitive lottery, pitting restaurant VS restaurant. She put only $10 million in the pot, but $70 million is needed to avoid a lottery and give grants to the city's 7,300 restaurants who are hurting.
Governor Pritzker has provided grant money to businesses hurt by the recent COVID-19 restrictions. Below is information on how to apply for the second round of grants. Please remember to read the documents before accepting the funding.
As you know COVID-19 positive ratings are increasing in Illinois. The increase is traced back to more gatherings at home, in the workplace and nursing homes. However, Governor Pritzker is mandating closing restaurants and bars.
Chicago will once again shut down indoor bar service and force non-essential businesses to limit hours as city officials warn a second surge of the coronavirus is underway.
Our Governor just announced yesterday he is mandating no in-door seating for Will, Kankakee, Kane and DuPage counties starting Friday, October 23. This news is very disappointing but GARC is dedicated to support our members and will inform you of any updates.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced that the city of Chicago will allow restaurants to operate at 40% indoor occupancy (with six feet of social distancing between tables), permit liquor sales until 1:00 a.m., and allow tavern licensees to open indoors at 25% occupancy effective at 5:00 a.m. Thursday, October 1. IRA President & CEO Sam Toia joined Mayor Lightfoot for the announcement.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday released new guidelines for Illinois as the state looks to move into phase four of its reopening plan Friday, June 26.
Phase four of the "Restore Illinois" plan allows for the reopening or expansion of several industries, including indoor dining at restaurants, health and fitness, movies and theaters, museums and zoos and more. This next phase also increases the size of gatherings that are allowed from 10 people to a maximum of 50 people. Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or less, with tables spaced 6-feet apart in seated areas and with standing areas at no more than 25% of capacity.
All four regions of Illinois are on track to enter phase four on Friday, Pritzker's office said, with the state's average 7-day case positivity rate falling to 2.5 percent as of Saturday.
Attached are the guidelines for restaurants in Illinois and Chicago.
I wish you all a successful re-opening.
Christine E. Simms
- Latest Newsletter
- Be Safe. Chicago—Phase 4 | Phase 3
- Outdoor Dining
- Restore Illinois | Phase 4 infographic | Phase 3 infographic | Business Checklist | Employee Training Checklist | Wellness Screenings Checklist
- Association of Food and Drug Officials
- National Restaurant Association
- Mickey's Linen MedClean PPE Supplies for safety and sanitation
- POD Storage Program
- Newly-extended employee retention credit! From our accountants | irs.gov
- Reminder: State of Illinois minimum wage and tipped wage increase on January 1, 2021 | Chicago | Cook County
- CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Application | Temporary Changes | PPP Funding Close | Flexibility Act (June 3 reform)
- Support workers in crisis with One Fair Wage's Emergency Coronavirus Tipped and Service Worker Support Fund
- Advance the lifelong stability and wellbeing of service industry professionals with USGB National Charitable Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program Grant
- Tell Congress that you support improvements to CARES loan and relief programs
- Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program application period will close at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 15
- Under Public Act 101-0221 (formerly Senate Bill 75) Illinois employers are required to train employees on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2020 (and on an annual basis thereafter) | IDHR Sexual Harassment Training
- PPP Loan Forgiveness FAQ
- Recovery Applications and Loans
- File Business Interruption Claim | Update Business Interruption Insurance
- Restaurants Act Website (National Restaurant Association's new comprehensive look at information and resources at the state level)
- Illinois Restaurant Association Resources
- Cook County Recovery Fund | Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program FAQ
- Farmer Brother's Message to GARA Members
- DoorDash Cuts Commission Fees by 50% for Independent Restaurants
- Dealing with Landlords
- Legislation for Small Businesses
- Loans/Grants/Funds (PDF)
- Small Business Administration Loans (SBA.gov)
- Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity COVID-19 Impact (USSBA Form for Emergency Relief)
- Illinois Executive Order: To-Go, Carry Out, Take Out Permitted
Dining Rooms Closed Until March 30
As stated in the news, Chicago’s restaurants will have to close their dining rooms for a two-week period starting at 9 p.m. on March 16 as ordered by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The order also covers bars, but allows kitchens to stay open for to-go, delivery, and curbside pickup orders.
Our team is working hard to ensure you have the most updated information. Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced they are taking additional steps to support workers and families impacted by COVID-19. The administration will file emergency rules this week to clarify that individuals unemployed due to COVID-19 can generally qualify for unemployment benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law. Please share the link with anyone on your team impacted: http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Pages/Archive/Unemployment%20Insurance.aspx
Staying Open for Takeout and Delivery Orders?
Our preferred partner Lamb Weston has provided information to support our members for their take out business. Please visit their web site to learn more and take advantage of their marketing and promotion.
- What is it? The ability to accept and fulfill orders from people ordering on the GrubHub.com website and app. If you’re not listed with GrubHub, then people ordering on the site can’t find you or order from you.
- How does it work? If a GrubHub customer wants to order from you, they will click through your online menu that we build, and we'll send that order to a tablet we provide at no cost. Then we come pick up the food, and deliver it to the customer hot and ready.
- What does it cost? That’s the best part! Signing up and listing your menu costs nothing. If a GrubHub customer orders from you we keep a small percentage of the order subtotal as our commission for sending you that new customer (20-25%). In addition, we deliver for a flat 10% of the order's subtotal.
THE KEY TO PROVIDING YOUR CUSTOMERS WITH WHAT THEY TRULY NEED DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME IS TO MEET BOTH THEIR PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL NEEDS WITH PRODUCTS AND PROTOCOLS THAT CALM AND SERVE THEM. THERE ARE STILL RISKS TO SPREADING DISEASE VIA DELIVERY AND TAKE-OUT. THESE RISKS CAN BE MITIGATED AND CONTROLLED FAR EASIER THAN IN AN IN-HOUSE ENVIRONMENT. HERE IS A LIST OF SOME OF THE TIPS RESTAURANTS CAN DO WITH THEIR TAKE-OUT AND DELIVERY OFFERINGS TO MAKE CONSUMERS AWARE OF AND COMFORTABLE WITH NEW SERVICE AND PRODUCTS:
- COMMUNICATE: TELL CONSUMERS AND POTENTIAL CONSUMERS THAT YOU HAVE SOLUTIONS AND OFFERINGS FOR THEM- COMMUNICATE HOW THE MENU OF SERVICES AND PRODUCTS IS THE SAME AND ALSO HOW AND WHY IT'S DIFFERENT.
- ADVERTISE AND MARKET YOUR WARES: IMPLEMENT DIRECT EMAIL CAMPAIGNS, CREATE GEO-TARGETED FACEBOOK ADS, OPTIMIZE OR IMPLEMENT PAID GOOGLE SEARCH. GET THE MESSAGE OUT THERE THAT YOU HAVE FOOD AND BEVERAGE TO SELL AND THAT IT'S SAFE.
- LEVERAGE YOUR WEBSITE: CHANGE YOUR LANDING PAGE TO COMMUNICATE SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THE COVID-19 PROTOCOLS YOU'VE IMPLEMENTED AND PRODUCTS YOU'RE OFFERING. NOW MORE THAN EVER, PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT YOUR SITE.
- PICK-UP PROTOCOL PROCESSES: CONSUMERS AND YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE AFRAID TO COME INTO CONTACT WITH STRANGERS. MAKE IT SO NEITHER OF THEM HAVE TO. CREATE AND IMPLEMENT EXTREME SAFETY PROTOCOLS THAT HIGHLIGHT EXACTLY HOW YOUR PICK-UP PROCESS WORKS. FROM PACKAGING AND SANITATION OF TO- GO PACKAGING, GLOVE PROTOCOL, PRODUCT RECEIVING PROCESS FROM YOUR VENDORS, TO WHERE YOU'LL PUT THEIR PARCEL FOR PICK UP. MAKE EACH STEP YOU'RE TAKING TO ENSURE SAFETY, KNOWN.
- DETAILED DELIVERY PROCESSES: CONSUMERS ARE AFRAID OF POTENTIALLY INFECTED STRANGERS IN/NEAR THEIR HOME. THEY'RE ALSO WORRIED THAT DELIVERY DRIVERS AND THEIR CARS ARE HAVENS FOR GERMS. CONSIDER DITCHING UBER EATS, POSTMATES OR ANY THIRD-PARTY DELIVERY SERVICE, YOU CAN'T CONTROL THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE DRIVERS OR HAVE ANY INSIGHT INTO WHERE THOSE DRIVERS HAVE TRAVELED. AN UBER DRIVER MAY HAVE JUST RETURNED FROM AN AIRPORT PICKUP, ONLY TO THEN TURN AROUND AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR DELIVERING FOOD TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. CONSIDER HIRING YOUR OWN DRIVERS OR RE-PURPOSING YOUR HOST/HOSTESS, BUSSERS OR OTHER STAFF MEMBERS FOR THIS IMPORTANT ROLE. (DON'T FORGET TO CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY TO ADD THEM TO THE POLICY.) DESCRIBE THE CLEANING PROCESS YOU GO THROUGH WITH EACH CAR, WITH EACH DELIVERY PERSON, SEALING EACH PACKAGE. OVER COMMUNICATE HERE!
- ALTERNATIVE MENU ITEMS: CONSIDER THIS ... THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO WILL WANT TO RE-HEAT, BOIL, OR OTHERWISE SANITIZE THE FOOD THAT ENTERS THEIR HOME. PERHAPS ADD A SECTION TO YOUR PICK-UP/DELIVERY MENU OF ITEMS THAT CAN BE REHEATED TO 140 DEGREES WITHOUT COMPROMISING FOOD INTEGRITY.
- CURATE YOUR MENU: REMOVE ITEMS THAT WON'T TRAVEL WELL AND THAT ARE LIKELY TO ELICIT COMPLAINTS (FRENCH FRIES ETC.) ADD ADDITIONAL ITEMS THAT WILL TRAVEL WELL. CUSTOMERS ARE CALLING YOU FOR HELP, THINK ABOUT WHAT OTHER ITEMS YOU CAN DELIVER TO THEM IN THE SAME TRIP THAT WILL SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS. MULTI-SERVE DISHES, FREEZABLE ENTREES, AND EVEN MEALS FOR VARIOUS DAY PARTS COME TO MIND HERE. MAKE SURE THAT EACH OFFERING RESONATES WITH YOUR BRAND IDENTITY AND FILLS A NEED.
- BE COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT WITH YOUR PRICING STRUCTURE: CUSTOMERS ARE USED TO PAYING A PREMIUM FOR DELIVERY. DURING THIS TIME THEY ALSO WANT TO SUPPORT YOU, THEIR COMMUNITY BUSINESS. LET THEM! IMPLEMENT THE FEES THAT YOU NEED TO IN ORDER TO PROVIDE THE SERVICE THAT YOU'RE KNOWN FOR. COMMUNICATE THE REASONS FOR THE PRICES, ASK FOR SUPPORT.
- TALK TO TIMING: GOOD FOOD TAKES TIME! EXPLAIN DURING THE ORDERING PROCESS AND ONLINE THAT YOU ARE NOT A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT. PROPER PREPARATION AND PACKAGING OF THEIR ORDER MIGHT TAKE LONGER THAN THEY EXPECT. GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS A PADDED EXPECTATION OF HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE TO GET THEM THEIR FOOD. OFFER THE OPTIONS OF ADVANCED ORDERING TO MITIGATE WAIT TIMES. COMMUNICATE VIA TEXT MESSAGE WHAT STAGE THE CUSTOMERS ORDER IS IN. PREPPING, PACKING, DELIVERY.
- REITERATE HAND-OFF PROTOCOLS: WHEN THE FOOD IS ABOUT TO ARRIVE VIA DELIVERY OR TO THE PICK UP POINT, FIND A WAY TO REMIND THE CUSTOMER THE STEPS YOU'RE TAKING TO ENSURE CONTACT-FREE FOOD DELIVERY. THIS CAN BE VIA PHONE CALL OR TEXT MESSAGE.
- INCLUDE A SAFETY LOVE NOTE: IN YOUR PACKAGED DELIVERY, INCLUDE A RECAP OF THE SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND PROCEDURES YOU WENT THROUGH TO ENSURE YOUR CUSTOMER'S SAFETY. THANK THEM FOR TRUSTING YOU, AND WISH THEM HEALTH AND WELLNESS. LET THEM KNOW THEY CAN RELY ON YOU NOW AND IN THE FUTURE WHEN YOU RE-OPEN YOUR FULL- SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT
- EXPLAIN BEST SERVING PRACTICES: IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF YOU WENT THROUGH ALL OF THOSE TEDIOUS PROTOCOLS TO HAVE YOUR END USER CONTAMINATE THE FOOD THEMSELVES. INCLUDE A CARD THAT TELLS YOUR CUSTOMER HOW TO BEST SERVE, REHEAT, AND STORE THE FOOD. REMIND THEM TO WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE OPENING THE BAG!
- THANKS AND NEXT!: OF COURSE YOU'LL THANK THEM, YOU'RE A HOSPITALITY EXPERT. BUT DON'T FORGET TO ALSO ASK FOR THEIR NEXT ORDER: FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP- PHONE IS BEST, EMAIL IS NEXT, TEXT IF YOU HAVE TO. WOULD YOU LIKE TO REPEAT THIS SAME ORDER NEXT WEEK? HOW ABOUT DINNER TOMORROW? MAKING LIFE EASY FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS IS WIN WIN FOR YOU.