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Businesses in the food sector face crossroads. Although Chicago’s large restaurants could not partially reopen their doors, as they would lose money, they are asking to considerate the smaller ones, since the crisis has wiped out their finances and has them on the verge of definitive bankruptcy.

The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) warns about an extremely critical situation affecting this industry that is so important to our community.

While May 1st allowed for a gradual reopening of some businesses, the owners of the city’s most famous restaurants say that any reopening at less than full capacity will not help them at all.

There is no waiting for a table or a place at the bar these days at the Old Crow Smokehouse on River North. Most of the employees are on leave until they can reopen the place. When they return, it will probably be with a limited number of customers, which the owner says it’s a problem.

“The numbers indicate you can’t open in the capacity where you lose money,” said Sam Sanchez, owner of Old Crow Smokehouse, Moe’s Cantina and other successful businesses, as well as Vice President of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

The situation of this industry is complicated, according to some estimates, almost half of all restaurants in the state could close permanently after the crisis caused by the Coronavirus.

The IHCC is working with Sanchez and other industry leaders in Illinois to find a solution that will ensure their survival.

There are thousands of Hispanic families who depend on this industry. We cannot allow all the work we have done over the years to help this vital industry to be erased by the crisis,” said Jaime di Paulo, IHCC’s President & CEO.

“We are working with the state and the City of Chicago’s economic development authorities to ensure restaurants, which generate profits, receive essential assistance to enable them to overcome the critical situation,” di Paulo added.

There are some restaurants, with decades of successful operations, who have lost up to half a million dollars a month. They are about to close their doors forever.

Sánchez explains that he keeps some people employed in a food collection and delivery business. Old Crow is 21,000 square feet and houses more than 800 people. With the new rules of social distancing, only a fraction of that number would be allowed when they reopen. That would not be enough to pay for the 75 employees, inventory, and rent. It would be a bigger waste of money than having to close down indefinitely.

Sanchez urged the Illinois government to allow small business owners who can provide 10 to 15 people in their restaurant to open.

“As a large business owner, I am willing to wait until Covid-19 is under control. The safety of our employees and customers comes first. However, there is no reason why large stores can open, operate and serve our community, when a small taqueria, hot dog stand, or coffee shop cannot be given the same opportunity,” said Sanchez.

If small businesses are allowed to open under reasonable safety precautions, it will be impossible to return jobs to those who have families to care for. It will cause more tragedies than Coronavirus.

See the complete TV coverage at ABC7.

IHCC supports the greater regulation demands for food delivery fees

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