Restaurants | WGLT


Chicken shop signage

As McLean County enters the second week of indoor dining restrictions, restaurant owners are facing increasingly difficult decisions.

sign leading to cafe dining room
Facebook/Jack's Cafe

Some McLean County restaurants kept their dining rooms open on Wednesday, in defiance of Gov. JB Pritzker’s order to stop indoor dining in regions with high COVID-19 positivity rates.

Band performing to crowd dining outdoors
Eric Stock / WGLT

Bar and restaurant owners in McLean County are trying to come up with new and creative ways to attract customers without indoor dining as new restrictions take effect Wednesday because of rising COVID-19 testing positivity rates in the central Illinois region that includes Bloomington-Normal.

picnic tables under an outdoor tent
Facebook/The Town Well

Bar and restaurant owners in McLean County have had to get creative to keep customers during the pandemic. But one key feature that's likely been the biggest boost, expanded outdoor dining, is fading fast as fall approaches, and they are now bracing for a long, cold winter with less room for customers.

Melanie Rust and Erika Zilm posing for a photo sitting at counter
Tiffany Bode Photography

The COVID-19 pandemic has put tens of millions of people out of work and dramatically changed the American way of life. It's not an easy time to open a business.

Kelly Cookson (mscaprikell) / Flickr

Some Twin City restaurants have not waited until the recommended end of June to reopen indoor dining.

Medici restaurant entrance

Bar and restaurant owners in McLean County hope allowing outdoor seating will whet the appetites of customers hungry to return to their favorite eateries and watering holes.

Diners sitting outside
WGLT file photo

Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday he plans to allow bars and restaurants to offer outdoor seating as the state moves toward the next phase of reopening near the end of the month.

Tony Roma's in Bloomington.
Google Maps

Editor's note: Hours after this story was published, former Tony Roma's front-of-house manager Mary Sigler said she was just notified that employees will be getting paid March 30.

Employees at Tony Roma’s restaurant in Bloomington say their bosses stiffed them out of their final paycheck, for hours worked before the business shut down.

The staff at Fort Jesse Cafe in Normal
Facebook / Fort Jesse Cafe

Bloomington-Normal’s restaurant workers need help.

That’s the message from Nick Birky, general manager at Fort Jesse Cafe, the popular breakfast and brunch spot in Normal. His entire staff of nearly 30 people is now out of work. (Fort Jesse Cafe opted not to offer curbside pickup for customer and staff health reasons.)

Council meeting
Joe Deacon / WGLT

The legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis remains such a hot-button issue that even a procedural step generated plenty of discussion at Monday’s Bloomington City Council meeting.

Eric's Too Restaurant
Eric Stock / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council voted Monday to send a west side restaurant’s request for a beer garden back to the liquor commission.

Original Steak n Shake location
McLean County Museum of History

Greg Snodgrass started at Steak ’n Shake as a bus boy in 1979 in Bloomington-Normal.