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Restaurant owners adapt to new challenges with the return of indoor dining

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ROCKFORD (WREX) —After region 1 moved to Tier 1 Mitigations in Governor Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, many restaurant owners were excited to find out they can have limited indoor dining once again.

That includes I Luv Sushi owner Brian Park.

"I am just so excited to open 25% still," Park said. "Hopefully it's getting better and we can get to 50% or 100%"

And while he is glad he can serve customers inside, there is one problem he has found himself dealing with—a lack of staff.

Since the pandemic started, he says his workers either quit the industry or left to work at restaurants out of state.

"It's so hard to find staffing in Rockford, honestly. We do our own Facebook hiring, through Craigslist, Indeed, and applications aren't coming in," said Park.

And even when applications do come in, he says training employees can take months.

Olympic Tavern owner Zak Rotello has a different challenge on his hands—predicting how many people will come and hoping indoor dining isn't shut down again.

"We aren't going to be filling all 28 cases of beers if things slide backward, and hopefully they don't. But meeting expectations is the aim for the weekend," said Rotello.

But despite these new challenges, the owners say they're relieved indoor dining is coming back.

I Luv Sushi is now doing indoor dining and the Olympic Tavern will start on Friday.

Lauren Baker

Lauren Baker is the 13 News weekend evening anchor. She started in April of 2019 after moving from Michigan, where she was a morning producer/traffic reporter.

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