Here’s How You Can Support Local Businesses During the COVID-19 Shutdown

On Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the shutdown of all restaurants and bars in Illinois at 9 p.m. Monday, after crowds of St. Patrick’s Day revelers flocked to downtown bars, ignoring all pleas to stay home. This order, which promotes staying at home to flatten the curve, is not just affecting restaurants. Retail stores, gyms, play spaces and a long list of businesses are closing their doors in order to be proactive about the spread of COVID-19. On top of that, the ban of gatherings of more than 100 caused Chicago’s theatre, arts and museum communities to close their doors.

After the slow winter months, this shutdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for local businesses. Hopeful for a government stimulus, many are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot to support the thousands of workers and owners who will soon be out of jobs.


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Our Chicago community is amazing — we have shown this time and time again — and now is the time to come together to support local businesses as best as we can. The two-week closure is forcing local business owners to offer alternative ways to keep their businesses afloat — and keep their staff paid — while we all face these uncertain times. Here are a few ways you can support them.

This list will be updated regularly. Have a tip or see something missing? Contact us.

Order Take-Out From Local Restaurants

This aggregator will tell you which restaurants in the Chicago area are open for take-out, curbside pick-up, or delivery during the lockdown of Chicago’s restaurants and bars during COVID-19. There are also many options via Grubhub (they are delaying fees for restaurants). You can explore a comprehensive list here, too.

Shop Online

If you have the means, treat yourself! This is your chance to shop from home with zero guilt, because you’re doing something to help your community. Here are a few ideas — just remember to choose local over big-box stores:

  • Send a gift to a friend.
  • Flowers for Dreams is delivering flowers to healthcare workers.
  • Order beautiful letterpress cards and mail to friends and loved ones.
  • Send chocolates or a small gift to your elderly parents or family members that you can’t visit.
  • To keep the kids entertained, many toy stores are offering curb-side pick-up.
  • Spring clothing is hitting small shops — pretend your are on spring break and order some outfits!

Purchase Gift Cards and Tickets to Future Events

You know you’ll be back to visit your favorite restaurants, shops, museums and breweries when things are back up and running, so purchasing gift cards online or by phone is a wonderful way to support. Need a birthday gift in the next few months? Get a gift card or theater tickets! Planning an event soon? Get a gift card to use later!

Don’t Cancel Your Memberships

If you can, please don’t cancel your memberships to gyms or other businesses. Even if they have to close, memberships will help keep them afloat. Some of your favorite gyms and workout studios have online stores too — don’t forget to shop or purchase gift cards for future services.


Funds have been set up to support Chicago artists and hospitality workers:

Chicago Artists Relief Fund

“Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without its artists. Painters, filmmakers, sculptors, dancers, musicians, theater makers, writers: artists help us tap into our own creativity, to see the world in new ways, to share experiences in communal spaces.”

Stock Mfg and Leisure Activities have teamed up to sell t-shirts to support hourly hospitality workers at 32 Chicago restaurants:


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The below funds have been set up to support workers of restaurants, bars and music venues:

Lula Cafe Fund

Thalia Hall + Dusek’s Employee Relief Fund

Empty Bottle + Bite Café Staff Relief

Scofflaw Group Employee Fund

Heisler Hospitality Employee Fund

Hideout Virtual Tavern

Reno 911

Emporium Arcade Bar Employee Relief Fund

Sleeping Village Employee Fund

Tonic Room Tip Jar

More on the Coronavirus Outbreak…

Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.

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