SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - The governor announced some big changes to Phase 3 of the Re-Open Illinois Plan. One of those changes, allowing bars and restaurants to open to the public with outdoor seating.
The Owner of Cafe Moxo, Mark Forinash, says this was news he was happy to hear.
"My knee-jerk reaction to us being able to open for outdoor dining May 29; I was elated," Forinash says. "I was jumping up and down big time."
According to Forinash, his excitement quickly faded to analyzing the best strategies for his restaurant.
"I thought, what does that mean from a staffing perspective, from a product ordering perspective," Forinash says?
The Director of Downtown Springfield Inc. (DSI), Lisa Clemmons Stott, says allowing restaurants to re-open safely is a great first step to rebuilding the city's economy.
"The restaurant community is really important to the economic fabric of Springfield," Stott says. "When I ask people why they come downtown, restaurants are their number one choice."
Although this is a first step, Forinash says it could be challenging for downtown restaurants to not only try to set up tables six feet apart, but keep them a safe distance from people on the sidewalks.
"There is a movement we are really trying to push forward, where certain streets downtown can be closed off to traffic," Forinash says.
That's why DSI is working to explore the city's best options.
"DSI has been putting together what the businesses are looking for, for easing restrictions for outdoor dining," Stott says. "We think we're going to need to do a block-by-block approach downtown, so it's not going to be the same on every block."
Forinash says it's also important to look into strategies that can also benefit restaurants that don't normally have outdoor dining.
"Wouldn't it be neat if they could join us here, on Adams street and put some of their tables and chairs out on our street," Forinash says? "I would be more than willing to share our street with as many people as we possibly can to help generate some revenue for these businesses that are struggling."
Ultimately, Forinash says it's about the entire community prospering, not just a few restaurants.
"The happiest times in our lives, are always spent around food and beverages," Forinash says. "If we can make memories for generations to come, just by working together with other like-minded individuals, that's what moves us past this and gives us a sense of community."