Merchants content to comply with the mask mandate

In the wake of Gov. JB Pritzker's indoor mask mandate that took effect Monday to address rising COVID-19 cases, Hinsdale businesses say the impact has been minimal.

Ryan Moore, manager of Fuller House, said the restaurant had one of its busiest lunch crowds in recent weeks on Tuesday.

"If the reopen, shutdown, reopen, showed us anything, it's that the people of Hinsdale are more than willing to come out and enjoy themselves still," Moore said.

Having ample outdoor dining space where masks are optional is an attractive feature, he suggested, but staff are required to wear masks at all times.

"It's something easy, super simple to get done, so why not do it?" Moore said of the rule. "We're making sure that we're doing things the right way every time."

He said the eatery is much better equipped than at the start of the pandemic to facilitate takeout service as uncertainty looms heading into the colder months.

"We had to set up our store in a different way to make sure that our takeout was functioning properly," he said.

At My Sister Kate, owner Rachael Pratt said being a destination for children means staff take the mandate seriously.

"We've got a lot of little customers that come in here and can't be vaccinated," she said.

The shop is one of many that have posted front door notices alerting patrons to the mask requirement.

"We gently remind those who don't wear masks," Pratt said. "We have them ready for people when they come in.

"I haven't heard customers complain," she added.

And she's not complaining about students returning to in-person school.

"Pajama sales are down and school clothes are up," Pratt remarked with a smile

At Burhop's Seafood, customers are greeted with a printed request to wear masks that reads, "We are a small space, and vaccinated people are getting sick" along with a plea.

"Please don't yell at our staff, this was a management decision based on medical facts."

A couple doors down, Caffray Jewelers asks visitors to remove facial coverings when entering so the store's security camera can capture their faces.

Alixandra Collections store manager Karen Hickey said she's expecting the head office to issue the shop a "Please wear a mask" sign to affix to the front window. Hickey said she was disappointed at news of the mask mandate but hasn't sensed a drop in traffic.

"It's hard for me tell if people are staying home because of it. I would say no, probably not," she said.

Angela Lavelli, owner of Café La Fortuna, said her biggest challenge has been obtaining disposable masks for customers who had gotten out of the habit of carrying one.

"They are sold out, everywhere - again," Lavelli said.

For those who don't want to wear a mask, their orders are taken and delivered outside, she said. Lavelli also has noticed an increase in workers resuming their train commutes to Chicago offices.

"I see more people walking to the train, so there is more traffic in the morning," she said.

Surviving the shutdown was a perspective adjuster, Lavelli indicated.

"It always could be worse."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean