CHICAGO (CBS) — Toni Patisserie & Café is one of the latest downtown restaurants to go out of business, and Loop business leaders said there will be more to come if things don’t pick up.
The restaurant and bakery was located in The Pittsfield Building, at 65 E. Washington St. Toni Cox and Steve Rennau run Toni Patisserie & Café, and they noted that running a business can be both sweet and bitter.
“It was really tough,” Cox said. “We were in that location for 10 years.”
As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, the Loop location of Toni used to three times the business of their other spot in Hinsdale.
“It was very common for us to have 20, 30 people in line for 8 hours straight a day,” Rennau said.
But now, the Hinsdale location is all there is. The Loop café is closed for good.
“There was nobody working in the local offices,” Rennau said. “The hotels were empty.”
“Until people are back downtown working and there’s less restrictions, I don’t see how people are going to make it,” Cox said.
Foot traffic in the Loop is down about 65 percent from last year.
Flight Club, 111 W. Wacker Dr.; Ocean Prime, 87 E. Wacker Dr.; and other downtown bars and restaurants responded to the city’s latest restrictions with temporary closures.
AceBounce Ping Pong Bar & Restaurant, 230 N. Clark St., announced last week that they’re closed for the rest of the year.
“You will definitely see businesses fail,” said Chicago Loop Alliance chief executive officer Michael Edwards.
Edwards said even before the latest restrictions, a lack of tourists and downtown customers stood in the way of a rebound for many bars and restaurants.
What will it take to prevent more businesses from closing permanently?
“We have to get our numbers of office workers up,” Edwards said.
One major challenge is that people are avoiding public transit, a life source for the Loop. Social distancing and crowded trains do not exactly mesh.
“I’m no genius on these things, but maybe the city could come up with some kind of system where people A-F come to bring between 6 and 7, the next group comes between 8 and 9,” Edwards said.
Twelve workers lost their jobs when Toni closed, and that is even after the business got a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
And with more people working from home, their suburban location has been able to survive.
“They really need to find ways to safely bring back some indoor dining, because that’s what’s going to allow restaurants like us to make it through the winter,” Rennau said.
They’re hoping by next spring, things will be a little sweeter.
The team at Toni said they’d like to open another location again someday, maybe within the city of Chicago. But that’s not in the cards right now.
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