Local restaurants get creative to stay afloat amid pandemic

Outdoor bubbles and igloos have popped up around the city as local restaurants try to survive the pandemic, while other businesses are shutting operations down for a while.

Manny’s Deli still has a lunch crowd some days, but with the dining room empty, all orders are to-go. The South Loop restaurant is trying to cook up some new ideas.

 “We’re still struggling non-stop to reinvent ourselves and find new reasons to get our products to people,” said Dan Raskin, owner of Manny’s Deli.

Raskin says they've beefed up online ordering and have added daily delivery to the suburbs.

Now, they are teaming up with other Chicago businesses.

The first collaboration will bring together two loves: Beef and beer.

“So it’s a pastrami on rye beer, very cool,” said Raskin.
“It’s definely an unusual pairing, but we think a pairing that works,” said Kate Brankin of Pipeworks Brewing Company.

Pipeworks Brewing Company will make a beer brewed with Manny’s pastrami spice blend.

“Especially right now with everything going on in the restaurant industry, it’s wonderful to remind people how important these family-owned and independent businesses are,” said Brankin.


One common thread you hear from restaurant owners is that they need government aid, especially with no indoor dining as winter approaches. 

 “We are dying, we are drowning,” said Eric Wennberg of the Maple Tree Inn.

Wennberg says his restaurant in Homewood is going into hibernation because they can’t survive on takeout alone.  They're going to pause and hope for help.

“So I call on our elected leaders to save restaurants. You’re saving more than restaurants, you’re saving communities,” said Wennberg.

Back at Manny’s, they have long served famous politicians and now also call on elected leaders to serve up a targeted relief package for restaurants.