Southern Illinois businesses prepare to fully reopen Friday

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 4:19 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - Restaurants and other businesses in Illinois can begin operating at full capacity this Friday.

Governor JB Pritzker said his state is ready to lift COVID-19 restrictions. Some businesses locally are ready to have those restrictions lifted.

“We’re really excited about it, we basically kind of been open doing our thing the last couple of months anyways,” said John McPeek, general manager of Mackie’s Pizza in Marion.

He said he believes when Phase 5 begins, more and more people will dine out.

“But I think come Friday, I think people will be ready to get out and people that are kind of worried about the COVID-19. I think now they’re kind of losing it, out of their mind, and they’re ready to get back to normal,” said McPeek.

Mackie’s is not having staffing issues. And even during the pandemic, they didn’t have any trouble finding employees.

“I’ve been lucky through the whole thing. Most of my employees stayed during COVID-19 and then the ones I have, they’re getting a lot of hours. They’re working hard and that’s important to them cause they’re making tips and the guys in the back are working extra hours so it’s great,” said McPeek.

But a shortage of workers continues to impact 17th Street BBQ in both of their locations in Marion and Murphsyboro.

“We’re still operating at 25 percent, I hope that we’ll be at 50 or 75 percent soon. But we are not really going to be going full throttle, I would say, for several months,” said Amy Mills, owner of 17th Street BBQ.

Mills said at both locations, they have been on a hiring blitz, trying to find workers.

“We are still working hard to staff up and train a lot of new staff, so we are going to be creeping back into full occupancy,” said Mills.

Rising food cost is also expected to increase menu prices.

“Our food cost have increased 300 percent just since January. They had already increased all during COVID but now an additional 300 percent,” said Mills.

Mills is also seeing a shortage of different foods such as chicken.

“We’ll always have food to eat, it may just not be what you wanted but that’s an opportunity to explore everything and our menu has to offer,” said Mills.

Back at Mackie’s, they are ready to host parties again.

“Yeah, definitely, I think people are ready to start having birthday parties again, wedding receptions, and rehearsal dinners and were open for that. We have a huge room in there that can seat up to 100 people, so we’re ready to go,” said McPeek.

Also, the Marion Civic Center said on Friday on their website and Facebook page will be releasing more concerts for the public. They will be operating at 100 percent capacity come Friday.

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