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Senate PPP Fix Needed, Chicago Street Closures, 11:00 p.m. Liquor Sales

Friday, May 29, 2020  
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The Illinois Restaurant Association continues to engage with local, state, and federal officials to help our employers and employees address concerns about COVID-19.

Please see the below resources and information for your business - updated as of 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 29.



Tell the Senate to Get PPP Fixes Across the Finish Line


Congress doesn’t agree on much these days – but the House of Representatives listened to us and yesterday passed a bipartisan bill fixing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Click here for a breakdown of the bipartisan PPP fix legislation passed by the House.

The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act makes desperately-needed improvements for restaurants with PPP loans, including:

  • greater flexibility in how a restaurant can use a PPP loan

  • longer time for a restaurant to use a PPP loan

  • improvements to the rehiring deadline to allow a PPP loan to be forgiven

The bill was approved overwhelmingly in the House, but it has an uncertain path in the Senate. They need to hear from you now to pass this bill, fix the PPP, and preserve America’s restaurants. 

Click here to contact your Senators and make your voice heard!


Mayor Lightfoot Announces Street Closures for Outdoor Dining, Liquor-Licensed Restaurants Can Serve Alcohol On Premise Outdoors Until 11:00 p.m.


This afternoon, Mayor Lightfoot announced the city's plans to convert streets, or portions of those streets and cross-streets, in key commercial corridors throughout the City into expanded outdoor dining, providing much needed relief to restaurants of all sizes. After the initial pilots have launched, the City will evaluate the potential to expand programming to other areas in the City.

Click here to read the City's press release. Click here to watch a recording of the announcement. IRA President & CEO Sam Toia joined Mayor Lightfoot for the press conference earlier today.

"Today, Mayor Lightfoot and the city of Chicago are taking clear actions to support our world-class restaurant community in our time of need," said Toia. "Closing down streets to allow expanded outdoor dining in Chicago’s neighborhoods is an innovative measure to help reopen our economy. This announcement today is not a solution for every restaurant in Chicago, but it is another pragmatic and crucial step forward in the path to recovery."

The six pilot streets included in the program are:

  • Chatham: 75th Street from Calumet Avenue to Indiana Avenue

  • Lakeview: Broadway from Belmont Avenue to Diversey Parkway

  • Little Village: 26th Street from Central Park to Harding Avenue

  • Rush & Division: Rush Street from Oak Street to Cedar Street 

  • Near West Side: Taylor Street from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue

  • West Loop: Randolph Street from Expressway no further than Elizabeth Street

Beginning Monday, June 1, chambers of commerce, SSAs, business associations and restaurants in groups of three or more can visit the City website to submit an application for Expanded Outdoor Dining. This will allow for existing, fully licensed Retail Food Establishments to temporarily use streets or private property for outdoor dining and drinking until 11:00 p.m.

Furthermore, restaurants with outdoor dining and a valid liquor license can sell alcohol at their establishment for on-premise, outdoor consumption until 11:00 p.m. The City’s 9:00 p.m. liquor sales curfew remains in effect for to-go sales of alcohol at all retail establishments.

More information on the application process and supporting documents will be made available on the website, as well, and the City will be hosting multiple informational sessions with potential applicants in the coming days.

Read more:

Outdoor Dining Begins June 3

Yesterday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago will begin a partial reopening of restaurants and other businesses on Wednesday, June 3Click here to read the full announcement.

Click here to download the guidelines for outdoor dining at restaurants.


City of Chicago Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Related Surcharges


The City of Chicago's Department of Finance has issued guidance to ensure restaurants and customers understand the proper treatment of the COVID related "surcharge" that some restaurants have started to collect during these unprecedented times.

The rate of the City’s restaurant tax is .50% of the "selling price" of all food and beverages sold. The term "selling price" means "the consideration for a sale" and "shall be determined without any deduction on account of the cost of the property sold, the cost of materials used, labor or service cost or any other expense whatsoever..."

Accordingly, any "surcharge" restaurant customers are required to pay for food or beverages is considered taxable and should be included in the basis upon which the restaurant tax is calculated.

In addition, it is important to note that any such "surcharge" is not a tax and should not be designated as such on any price list or invoice.

Please contact with any questions about this matter or other tax questions.

Click here to read the notice.


PPE and Reopening Resource Guide, Discounts for IRA Members


The IRA has launched a premier resource base of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and reopening services for restaurants, including: hand sanitizer, face coverings, gloves, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, plexiglass, menus, floor markers, signs, and more.

Click here to let us know if you would like to join the IRA’s reopening resource page and offer PPE materials and equipment to restaurants and bars throughout Illinois. Companies must be current IRA Associate members in order to be featured. Contact Emilee Lyons for more information on listing your company.


State of Illinois Phase 3 Outdoor Dining Reopening Guidance


Earlier this week, Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) released guidelines for the reopening of outdoor dining across the state during Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. Click here to read the full announcement.

The document specifies: the eating and drinking establishments who may operate in this capacity, party size limitations, operational procedures for seating, menus and service standards, and – at the cornerstone – recommended enhanced health and safety measures to protect public well-being.

Operators must also look to their local municipalities and health departments for further guidance.

A state of Illinois Phase 3 reopening toolkit for restaurants and bars is also available here.

Read more about the status of reopening restaurants in Illinois:


Download the Illinois Restaurant Promise Poster


In partnership with the IRA and health officials across the state, restaurant owners and operators make these commitments to earn this endorsement during the COVID-19 recovery period. 

When customers see this endorsement, they can be comfortable that the restaurant is taking all necessary steps to protect their employees and customers and is committed to playing a leadership role in protecting our communities.

Click here to download the poster for your establishments.


Webinar Recording - Scaling UP Restaurant Operations


We thank our presenters and everyone that joined us for yesterday's IRA webinar on Scaling UP Restaurant Operations: Financial Considerations. As a follow up, below please find links to the webinar and presentation:

Additionally, below are links to the tools referenced in the webinar by presenters Jorden Brotherton and Carter Phillips, University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Please join us for the second webinar in the two-part series, "Scaling UP Illinois Restaurant Operations: Safety Considerations" on Thursday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m.

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