This is insanity, driving local public outrage and vows to avoid these establishments: high-end restaurants in Chicago are still blaming COVID social distancing polices for a strictly enforced policy of a $100 minimum for each person to dine.
"A Chicago man was outraged when he was faced with a minimum payment to eat at a restaurant, and he thinks the rule should go away now that the city is opening back up," a local CBS affiliate reports. But the rule isn't going away, many restaurants say while claiming the continued requirement is toward ensuring operations are in line with COVID-related health and distancing measures.
One man interviewed in the report, Howard Tolsky, booked a dinner online for a well-known downtown steak restaurant and was required to pay a minimum of $300 for three total people just to ensure a table there.
"I figured, well, we’re not going to spend $300," Tolsky said. "We might spend $250. But I don’t want to spend $300 dollars on a meal that costs $250." He went elsewhere on that basis, telling CBS-2 that "Now is the time for them to attract customers and not detract them."
The restaurant itself echoed the policies of a number of other Chicago dining establishments, saying in response to the report:
“Like many in our industry, we had to make some updates to our policies. The $100 per person minimum will remain in effect to provide the ability to be successful as a steakhouse designed for the full sit-down experience and support our restaurant’s operations and staff.”
The restaurants say that with the past year of severely restricted numbers on diners they were allowed to seat, last-minute cancelled reservations were especially brutal, causing them to also implement unusual requirements like non-refundable deposits on reserving a table.
Terms and conditions for a restaurant? A non refundable $100 deposit for a reservation?!! https://t.co/OlYEWWhpOl— 1 (@BlackNoir91) July 3, 2021
And on top of all this, "Chicago restaurants said of the reservation issues and minimum wage hike, we can expect to see prices rise in the next months or weeks," the report notes.
Americans are by and large returning to restaurants and entertainment venues in record numbers during this "post-pandemic lockdowns" summer, providing a badly needed revenue boost for an service sector that barely survived.
But in Chicago and elsewhere, a family of five for example might think twice going to "$100 minimum" establishments, considering it would be a whopping $500 minimum just to get in and eat.