Geneseo restaurant feels ‘challenge’ of county health department’s indoor dining decision

The Henry-Stark Health Department decided Thursday to restrict bars and restaurants from allowing indoor dining
Published: Dec. 12, 2020 at 10:27 PM CST
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GENESEO, Ill. (KWQC) - On Wednesday, the Henry-Stark County Health Department announced they would allow for indoor dining in both counties at 25% capacity. The following day, the department announced it would retract their decision and limit all dining to be either curbside or pickup to match the state of Illinois’ tier 3 mitigations.

The quick changes—as well as the year—have been tough for Geneseo Great Revivalist Brew Lab general manager Rachel Heise.

“It has been very, very challenging, I feel like it’s two steps forward, 14 steps backwards all the time,” she said. “As soon as we get a good momentum going it seems like we get our hand slapped by another mandate of us moving backwards.”

Heise said the change canceled plans that she had put in place.

“We ramped up our staff, we ordered extra food of course, and we had planned on being open,” she said.

The manager also said the move came with unfortunate timing with Geneseo seeing an increase of people in town for the weekend.

“Especially since it’s the Christmas walk here in Geneseo so there’s an additional large group of people in town this weekend so we were planning on having a great weekend,” she said.

Before the department retracted the decision, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he found the initial decision from the department as a result of local pressure.

“I believe that there’s a lot of local political pressure that sometimes gets put on a local public health departments, improperly, I might add... I discourage public officials from exercising that kind of political influence,” he said.

For now, Heise is happy to still be open with the outdoor dining they’ve set up.

“We are so fortunate here that we’ve been able to stay open the way we have because a lot of businesses aren’t open at all so, you know, we’re the only place where people can come to so we are very fortunate that we’ve had the opportunity to continue serving the community the way that we have,” she said. “We’re in survival mode right now, we have trimmed down hours, we’re tightening everything up as much as we can, we take extra care on food costs and labor costs, making sure that we’re as tight as we possibly can and just maximizing any space that we can use at this point.”

TV-6 reached out to the Henry-Stark Co. Health Dept. but has yet to receive a response.

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