The doors at Theo’s Java Club in downtown Rock Island reopened for dine-in customers at 7 a.m. Friday, as Illinois entered Phase 4 of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic.
Theo Grevas, owner of the staple in downtown Rock Island, said at about 11 a.m. Friday that it had been a “semi-successful” morning.
“It’s been a very nice steady stream of people who are happy to come back in and have a different brand of coffee from the other places,” Grevas said.
Theo’s was temporarily shuttered for about two months, from early April to early June, and has welcomed back customers in recent weeks with outdoor seating, the only option for Illinois businesses in recent weeks.
Bars and restaurants welcomed dine-in customers again Friday, provided they maintain social distancing, wear face coverings and observe other safety protocols. Fitness centers and movie theaters also reopened.
Reopening day came as Quad-Cities health officials noted a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, with 71 additional cases confirmed on Friday. They say contact tracing shows the new cases are from young people, under 30, frequenting bars and restaurants. Some businesses took to social media to disclose employees have tested positive and to explain how they plan to keep workers and customers safe.
Atomic Coffee closed Wednesday after an employee tested positive for coronavirus and all Atomic locations were closed for cleaning until Saturday. Foundry Food and Tap, in the development surrounding the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf, is closed until June 30 after an employee there tested positive.
For Finn’s Grill, 580 1st St. W in Milan, business will continue with outside dining and to-go orders only. The restaurant expanded its outdoor seating and has taken recommendations from customers to continue to adapt its approach.
“After hearing about growing COVID cases in restaurant employees around the Q-C mixed with us having a small dining room, it wasn’t hard to make this choice,” said Joe Ende, owner of Finn’s, in an email.
“First and foremost I need to be a responsible owner and do everything I can to put my employees and patrons first before revenue and that’s exactly what we always try to do here every day.”
Ende thanked Finn’s Fanns, or regular customers of the Milan restaurant, for an increased presence across social media in recent months that has turned some first-time customers into regulars.
At Theo’s Java, Grevas said outdoor seating was a nice option and business has been steady.
“People just want to get out and purchase some coffee and food and some other things,” he said.
But small businesses won't recover immediately.
“A lot of the small business guys have some costs that haven’t changed and income has dramatically changed. I just think it’s going to be tough for the time being for small businesses to recover. It seems like a lot of people coming in have said it’s a struggle for every small business they know,” Grevas said Friday.
“Some businesses are closing permanently because the volume, the business volume has dropped so dramatically, there’s no way to recover. It’s going to be hard and harder for the small businesses to recover in the future. If they say it’s going to be a year, at least, I think it’s going to be sad for small business, but I think some people might step up and make a go at it.”
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