'Slowly, people are starting to filter inside to eat'; Others opt to continue dining outdoors
Jolene Linker is sick of getting takeout food and having it cold by the time she gets back to her house in Malden.
Leanne Krewer, of Spring Valley, is tired of drive thrus and Holly Rossmann, of Peru, wanted the experience of getting waited on again.
So the three friends went to lunch at the Igloo in Peru on the first day of indoor dining as Illinois moved into phase 4 of its reopen plan.
“It’s a nice day,” Krewer said. “We wanted to get out and enjoy dining in again.”
The three friends were the only table inside at the Igloo around noon Friday with a few more tables seated outside.
Restaurants throughout the La Salle-Peru area had a slow start to indoor dining.
“It’s been steady so far,” said George Trikilis, co-owner of Liberty Restaurant in Peru. “It hasn’t been crazy busy. There are some people still eating outside. Slowly, people are starting to filter inside to eat. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.”
Despite the slow start, local restaurant owners are thrilled to welcome customers back inside.
“It’s great,” said Rich Decker, owner of the Igloo. “It’s been kind of lonely. Sales have been strong with just carryouts, but you still miss that time talking to the customers and getting feedback. Everything was push, push, push, here’s your carryout and move out. To actually have some camaraderie and get to know the customers again is nice.”
John Ebener, owner of Ninth Street Pub in Peru, agreed it was nice to have customers back inside, especially with high temperatures and potential for storms.
“I’m happy to have them back,” said Ebener, who had his first indoor table at 7:30 a.m. Friday. “I’m just thrilled.
“It’s nice to be able to enjoy the air conditioning, especially with today being 90 with potential storms. We built a solid awning, but you can only have about 20 people without them getting wet. You can’t control the weather.”
Customers appreciated being back indoors.
“My dad and I love coming here (to Liberty),” said Brian Towne. “My son was waiting tables (Friday) so we had three generations here. My dad is not one for outdoor dining, so he didn’t want to partake in that when that phase opened up. We finally got the opportunity to share a meal again.”
And finally got the opportunity to get their favorite dishes.
“Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, I always get the steak and eggs here and it’s just as good as I remember,” Towne said. “My dad likes the cod. There’s a special way my son makes sure it gets prepared for him.”
The Alejos family from Spring Valley also had a good experience at Liberty and didn’t mind the social distancing.
“It’s a little more relaxed,” said Ted Alejos Sr. “We enjoyed our visit here. People were happy and smiling. It feels good to be back out again and get some interaction with people.”