Mark Onstott’s preparing for changing weather by ordering heaters for Tavern on Main’s patio. But there’s another change he’d like to see first.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Tavern on Main was so busy Thursday afternoon, owner Mark Onstott said he could use some extra hands, joking that he’s “the oldest busboy in Belleville.”
Onstott said business is good, despite the state’s ban on indoor dining, but that could change at any moment.
“It’s all about the weather,” he said on an unusually warm October evening.
Onstott’s preparing for colder weather by ordering heaters for the patio facing Main Street, but as the weather changes, he’s hoping for another change — a rollback in Illinois’ ban on indoor dining.
This week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he was considering lifting regulations that limited hours and activities as coronavirus numbers improved.
“Metro East leveled off between an average of seven and eight percent positivity for several weeks and has recently dropped to a new low of 6.3%,” Pritzker said in a briefing Wednesday, adding “that’s enormous progress.”
“For a little while we were kind of losing hope, but now we are really kind of getting the momentum,” Wine Tap owner Robbie Fogarty-Hayden said.
Nextdoor to Onstott’s Tavern on Main, Fogarty-Hayden said they’re lucky because they were able to cover their back patio and create more dining space.
“People love this vibrant neighborhood and want to be out and want to be enjoying the restaurants,” she said. “I definitely think that everybody is in the same boat with rooting for the restaurants and bars to keep that regular awesome downtown vibe.”
Erin Kelley said she’s happy to sip cocktails curbside, and she’ll support these businesses with whatever happens next.
“Oh, always,” Kelley said. “This is what I do, it’s where I hang out, so I want everyone to thrive, and I want everyone to stay open because I wanna be able to come.”