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For Some Bars, Closing Doors A Better Option Than Staying Open Under New Restrictions

Local restaurants and bars are taking a step back to reevaluate how--or if--they are going to continue operating under Gov. JB Pritzker's newest Tier 3 mitigations.

The mitigations going into effect Friday are the strictest implemented since the stay-at-home order was lifted, as COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates soar locally and across the state in recent weeks.

Lauren Blasek, co-owner of W.E. Sullivan's Irish Pub in Peoria Heights, said the business will close its doors for a month to retool its business plan.

"We were trying to do just takeout. (But) we have a very large space, and so, a building sitting empty with all the other bills, it doesn't really cover it," she said.

She said the hope is for the pub to bounce back stronger after changes are implemented.

Downtown Peoria's Broadway Lounge also announced it will close until the new mitigations are lifted.

"While we certainly hope our revival will come very quickly, as soon as just a few weeks even, since we serve people working and living in downtown Peoria primarily, we will have to take that timing of reopen from when businesses start coming back from yet another requirement to work from home," the business posted onits Facebook page.

Other businesses will tough it out.

Sean Kenny, owner of Kenny’s Westside Pub, said he and his staff are trying hard to make the best of a bad situation.

"We have a bunch of outdoor patio space, and we're trying to close it in," said Kenny. "We've got heaters going out there. We've got around six tables in front of our place. So we're just doing that right now. We're taking it day-by-day, as we have since March."

Both Blasek and Kenny encourage all people to continue to support struggling local businesses during the latest mitigations.

Pat Sullivan, owner of Kelleher’s Irish Pub on Water Street in downtown Peoria, said he may open the atrium doors as a form of outdoor seating, and the business remains open for takeout orders.

“We’ve created a way where you don’t have to get out of your car," said Sullivan. "You can come on the Washington Street side of Kelleher’s, down Commercial Street, and we’ll run your food and stuff right out to your car. So, it’s like a drive-thru – all you have to do is call when you’re there and we’ll run it out to you.”

Sullivan said he purchased new to-go containers to keep the food as fresh as possible during longer drives back to customers’ homes. He said they are also able to sell draft beer or bottles of wine to take with the meals.

He said they trying to do the best they can in the face of the pandemic and feels dining businesses are being unfairly singled out.

“We’ve got to come up with better answers than just closing bars and restaurants because that’s not the only way it gets passed around,” he said. “When you start looking at this stuff, your government agencies are supposed to be leading hopefully down the right path. They haven’t, so we’ve got problems.”

Joe Deacon contributed to this report. 

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