Park district helps restaurants with outdoor serving


DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Gearing up to reopen in Phase Three tomorrow brings challenges to some restaurants and bars. Like where is everyone going to be able to sit outside?

In Decatur, the park district is trying to help with that. Illinois is taking small steps to open back up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Large gatherings are not part of those plans yet though. The Decatur Park District has over 200 picnic tables for special events. With none happening any time soon, they are now loaning some of that inventory to restaurants.

“It’s a little disheartening right now because all of our facilities can’t be open,” says Director of Operations Clay Gerhard. “We’re feeling that, and to be able to give back to the community for something that we have just sitting right now, because again we can’t have large groups sitting out in the parks, so why not reuse those tables in a different way?”

Everyone’s East End Grill got eight of the park districts tables. Six people per table, that means 48 extra people get to eat there. The owners say that is going to make a huge different to them.

“Figure an hour, and we’re open several hours throughout the day, 48 people per hour just on these tables works out real good I’d say,” says owner Nic Morganthaler.

More businesses have started contacting the park district about getting some. They are asking for $75 to cover gas and labor, but is not charging for the tables themselves. Which is one less expense for small business owners to worry about.

“Thanks goodness for the Park District for stepping up and loaning these tables that were, like Clay said, sitting around,” says Morganthaler. “It’s huge, it’s huge. It helps the little guys. Helps pick us up and get back going again.”

The park district says the loan is for three months, but they are going to adjust it if circumstances change.

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