This week, Chicago bars and restaurants move into uncharted territory following Governor J.B. Pritzker's order to close up shop to dine-in customers. The order takes effect after service tonight, Monday, March 16 and will remain in place through the end of the month. Independent restaurant owners like Paul Kahan, Brian Jupiter and Diana Dávila have already come together to ask Pritzker to support emergency unemployment benefits, eliminate payroll tax and call for rent and loan abatement for workers impacted by these closures.
This morning, a glimmer of grassroots support surfaced on the internet in the form of a website called Dining at a Distance Chicago, where local restaurant owners and workers are encouraged to share details of their takeout, delivery and curbside pickup options, outlining hours, which services they're using, and special promotions. As of press time, the digital database included more than 100 Chicago restaurants, including Smoque, Ina Mae Tavern, Coalfire, Nini's Deli and Big Star. While most restaurants on the list are utilizing big-name delivery services like Grubhub and Caviar for now, some have noted that they're working on developing their own personal delivery system to offer work to their employees.
The website was launched as a passion project by Chicagoans Jenn Galdes and Sean Lynch; Galdes owns Chicago PR firm Grapevine, and Lynch is a senior product manager at digital agency Huge. The two met via Twitter and decided to join forces to build Dining at a Distance.
"My family loves supporting the local Chicago food scene, so when we heard the news about closures last night, we wanted to do whatever we can to keep our friends informed of where they can eat, while also giving visibility to these businesses who are committed to supporting their local community," Lynch said via email "We're hoping this is something that can scale to other communities."
If you're looking for ways to support Chicago restaurants and bars through delivery or takeout during this uncertain time, visit Dining at a Distance Chicago. We're also keeping an eye on canceled events and closed venues throughout Chicago.