As COVID-19 restrictions disappear, restaurants abandon al fresco dining options

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) – The patio at the Steam Plant restaurant in Belvidere has been a huge hit with Cindy Limani regulars.

“We have customers, they enjoyed the meals on the patio so much. And it’s so nice because the way our restaurant is, it’s kind of like a sidewalk cafe because it’s right outside the building, ”

When the pandemic hit, the town of Belvidere made it easier to open patios for restaurants like its own. But as Limani explains, she struggles to keep her patio open.

“There are a lot of things that go into the seats outside. You have to be equipped for the outdoors. As far as, for example, being outside when we couldn’t do that, you know, the city itself allowed us to do that, because we were going through a pandemic and they were helping us, which we are grateful for. If it weren’t for these places outside, I don’t think a lot of these companies would have survived, it helped us a lot.

But Limani says it still wasn’t easy.

“They allowed us to go there with caution, but it was a challenge and it was a struggle. I mean there were times we would buy tents and they were in the next parking lot.

Limani also tells 23 News that staff issues and permits do not allow him to continue offering his patio.

“But the customers were so happy that we were open, but if we’re talking long term … it’s too expensive and I don’t think I can afford that right now.”

Limani says his main problem right now is staffing. She says her restaurant and many others in Belvidere are in desperate need of workers, saying she can’t open the patio unless she has the workers to staff it.

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