Back to business

Morris restaurants enjoy start of Phase 4

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MORRIS — The state of Illinois entered Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan on Friday, and many local businesses were happy to see it.

After having to provide delivery, pickup or outdoor seating only, restaurants were able to open their doors to indoor seating. Bars were able to allow patrons inside, albeit to a limited capacity. The Grundy County Speedway opened for racing with limited seating in the stands, although Mother Nature played havoc with a massive rain just before racing was set to begin.

All in all, though, it was a successful weekend for local businesses.

"It didn't make a lot of difference for us," Corleone's co-owner Jane Claire said. "A lot of our business is carry-out and delivery, so we never closed. But, since the weather was pretty hot, some of the people that were sitting outside were able to come sit inside. It was nice to be able to look out and see people in the dining room and to put food on plates instead of having to wrap it up.

"There are only so many people that can come inside to eat, but it was definitely nice to have them in here."

Ebbey George's owner Frank Varner was more than happy to get back to a more normal business.

"We had a good weekend," Varner said. "We had a steady flow of a crowd, so we didn't really have to monitor how many people were inside. People would come in, have a drink or two or some food and leave, then people would come in and take their place.

"We had been doing delivery and just put in some outdoor seating a couple weeks ago. I think people really enjoy the outdoor seating, and it's nice to be able to go downtown after 5 o'clock and see people out on the street. But, having people being able to come back and sit inside gets things feeling a little more normal."

Aren Hansen, owner of Honest Abe's, said his restaurant/bar did a strong business during the weekend.

"It was very nice," he said. "It felt like Christmas morning for restaurant owners this weekend. It was so nice to have people inside the building. We left our outdoor seating up, but not very many people used it. They wanted to be inside.

"We didn't have a capacity problem. We are very rarely at our full capacity anyway. It was nice to be back to at least a little bit of normal after a long, three-month hiatus. We had a good weekend. We haven't had sales like that since before the virus, so it was nice to see things get back."

The Morris Municipal Pool announced that it will open Wednesday, July 1. The pool will offer four 90-minute swimming sessions, with admission needing to be paid for each session. The schedule is as follows: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - swimming; 12:30-1 p.m. - Closed for disinfection; 1-2:30 p.m. - swimming; 2:30-3 p.m. - Closed for disinfection; 3-4:30 p.m. - swimming; 4:30-5 p.m. - Closed for disinfection; 5-6:30 p.m. - swimming.

Prices for 2020 for the pool will be $1 for children and $3 for adult residents of Morris. Cost for non-residents is $10 for children and adults. Visit for more information.