George's defies gov's order, serves dine-in customers

Health dept. visit does not end dine-in service Wednesday

October 28th, 2020 6:07 PM

By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Oak Park's village government worked Wednesday to enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker's order closing all dine in restaurant service in suburban Cook County as COVID-19 cases rise in the state.

George's Restaurant, 145 S. Oak Park Ave., opened for both dine-in and take out service Wednesday, said Johnny Konstantos, an owner of the longtime diner. For a short time the restaurant had a Facebook post on its page explaining that it considered its customers to be family and saying those who were comfortable eating indoors were welcome.

Konstantos believes that in the short while that post was up that a customer called the Oak Park health department to report the restaurant. He said the health department sent a police sergeant and an officer to warn them the restaurant was in violation of the governor's order and that dine-in service had to end.

Mike Charley, director of public health for the village government, said in an email to the Journal, "the village received two emails from two different complaintants this morning communicating that George's … was open for indoor dining.' Charley said police visited the restaurant, issued a "verbal warning and education." He said George's management "agreed to voluntarily suspend indoor dining."

However, at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday there were four tables occupied inside the restaurant by the observation of a Journal reporter.

Charley said in a later email that he knew of no other Oak Park restaurants that were violating the governor's order.

Konstantos said he got a similar message as from the police when he called Tammie Grossman, the village's business development chief. Grossman, said Konstantos, said she was sorry but that these were the rules and that he should finish serving diners currently in the restaurant and then end dine-in service.

Konstantos said he expected the health department or police to return. He said the police had told him earlier that he would receive a "cease and desist" letter if he continued serving diners indoors. Konstantos said he has a lawyer on call.

A week ago, the Journal reported on expensive added protective measures George's had just taken including installing glass partitions between every booth.

"We have been following all the rules to keep people from getting sick.," he said. "These new rules seem arbitrary," he said, while for instance, casinos can remain open.

Saki Konstantos, Johnny's brother, said, "I know this is all very political but it's really just about our survival. There are a dozen people whose lives are tied in with George's"

Johnny Konstantos said George's will continue to provide takeout and delivery service regardless of the outcome on dine-in service.


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