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Local restaurants prepare to reopen outdoor dining

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Governor JB Pritzker has cleared the way for restaurants to begin offering outside dining next month, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

Some local restaurants are looking forward to extra revenue. Keeper's Quarter owner Doug Robinson says his restaurant has been closed for two months.

"I was shooting for--hoping for the June 1st that we could open up for dine-in. So to get everybody back in the swing of things, I figure we could do some takeout, bring some employees back and just get back in the groove," he said.

Robinson says he's spent the time renovating his business.

"I just got my loan on the beginning of May--May 4th. So we just put more energy in the restaurant and decided to open for takeout," he said.

The governor announced on Wednesday his reopening plan will allow restaurants to have outside dining at the end of the month.

"I'm excited that we don't have another month of to-go, just only carryout. We have six tables out here, could probably fit a few more. We're going to keep them spaced a little farther apart," he said.

Italian Village told News 3 they're happy about the new option.

"I'm glad that it's going to happen. With our drive-up window, we have so many customers that park out in the parking lot and eat…so this will be nice for our customers," said co-owner Debbie Bridges.

Robinson says he's working on his safety plans.

"I'm going to pull some more staff in and we're going to have a meeting about how best to handle the distance when the guests aren't wearing masks when they come to check on them when they're eating," Robinson said.

But he's looking forward to reopening the patio.

"I'm excited 'cause now we have people that can sit and we can also do the takeout, which, I mean, that's the whole life's blood of a restaurant. It's just the interaction and people being in there," he said.

Outdoor dining is part of Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. Barring a sudden increase in cases, that phase begins May 29th.

Maya Skinner

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