High percentage of Illinois restaurants could close without COVID relief

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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – Nearly 60 percent of restaurants in Illinois will fold if they don’t receive some federal help and soon. The Illinois Restaurant Association shared its grim prediction with Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday.

It’s a problem shared by restaurant owners on both side of the Mississippi River, if not most of the country. 

George Mahe, the dining editor at St. Louis Magazine, has been following the dining scene in the St. Louis metro area for three decades. He has heard the worry and concerns from restaurant owners first-hand. 

“There’s like 3,500 hundred restaurants in the metro area,” he said.

The Illinois Restaurant Association also reported 65 percent of restaurant owners expect to be laying off more workers in the next three months. 

Mahe said there’s a $120 billion piece of legislation in Congress targeting eating establishments. He said 110,000 restaurants across the country have already closed and owners need help.

“I think they feel relief is coming. They just don’t know if it’s coming soon enough,” he said. “They’ve all said, ‘We know the cavalry’s coming but we hope we can hold until they get here.” 

Like retail stores, the holiday season is an important time for restaurants to make money but not this year. 

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