Chicago fully open: City businesses brace for what they hope will be busy reopening day

CHICAGO (WLS) — Businesses in Chicago are extremely excited about Friday’s big reopening.

Businesses across the Chicago area have been waiting all week, all month, really all year for Friday’s full reopening.

They said keeping their doors open was anything but easy, but they feel relieved that this day has finally come.

“This is like a blessing for this Friday to come for us,” said Chef Gabriel Miranda, with Paisans Pizzeria.

They weren’t sure if this day would actually happen.

But the folks behind Paisans Pizzeria in the South Loop said they’re ready to make a complete comeback.

“We never really had a grand opening. So 50% capacity, we lost employees, not enough revenue to keep them on board. It was tough,” Miranda said.

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Miranda said the few corporate offices in the area that did keep their employees in the building were their saving grace.

“It was a blessing for us to have those orders,” he said. “Those deliveries or those orders kept food on the table for our employees.”

The struggle was also real for The Promontory in Hyde Park, which is known for bringing in some of the hottest acts to the city’s South Side.

Venue Manager Jake Austen said they did the best they could under the tight COVID restrictions.

“We really weren’t allowed to let people dance, and that was really difficult,” Austen said. “Telling people they can’t dance with their wife to good music is just a horrible position to be in.”

But one of the biggest themes appearing to permeate the city is hope.

“To be able to look up at that wall and say this is what we do. We get to bring these artists to the South Side and to Hyde Park, and the people in this community don’t have to travel to see the artists they love,” Austen said. “Getting to look up at that wall is really an inspiration when it gets challenging here.”

In Lincoln Park, business is slowly but surely getting back to normal.

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Robin Hammond, vice president of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, said restaurants and shops are bracing for big crowds and high spirits.

“We’re so excited for the businesses that have made it to the other side, and we’re excited to celebrate with them this summer,” Hammond said.

Back at Paisans, the chef said they’re pulling out all the stops for the reopening, and he’s hoping customers will come out and give them a chance.

“Chaos. I want this restaurant to be full. I want to run out of stuff,” Miranda said. “Come out and visit us at 700 S. Clark, and, you never know, I might buy your entree, your meal. We have everything fresh, high quality.”

The businesses and owners said, while they are extremely excited about Phase 5, safety is still a top priority.

They’re counting on this reopening to stick, so we can all get back to enjoying life as normal.

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