Chicago enters Tier 1: Restaurants and some bars resume indoor service

Sat. January 23, 2021 10:37 AM by Kevin Wayne

sidetrack ready to reopen with limited indoor service

photo credit // provided

Sidetrack Ready To Reopen For Indoor Service, Some Northalsted Restaurants And Bars Remain Closed

Chicago moved to Tier 1 coronavirus mitigations on Saturday, state health officials announced, which allows for the return of limited indoor service.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Saturday that Regions 10 and 11, which include Chicago and suburban Cook County, can move down from Tier 2 mitigations based on recent metrics.

Tier 1 mitigations allow restaurants and bars that serve food to seat customers inside at the lesser of 25% capacity or 25 people per room. Tables will be spaced 6 feet apart and parties may not exceed four people. Bars that don't serve food will have to keep their service outdoors for now.

Sidetrack, 3349 N Halsted, will reopen for limited indoor service this weekend, according to general manager Brad Balof.

“We knew this may be coming and have done our best to plan accordingly,” Balof told

His optimism remains tempered with concern about health and safety.

“We remain committed to serving our amazing customers with unique and entertaining programming in safe and welcoming environment,” Balof said.

Some business owners question whether the cost of reopening is worth the business it will bring and about the possibility of another shutdown as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

Lark Chicago, 3441 N Halsted, will remain closed for the time being with management posting to Facebook: "While this is exciting and we are very much looking forward to reopening, we've decided to hang back for a couple of reasons. As always, the safety of our team and customers is our top priority so we're assessing if it's safe to reopen at this time. It's also possible that the rules change again, so we're hesitant to reopen right away."

City bars and restaurants have been limited to outdoor service and takeout since October 30, prompting some restaurants to go into hibernation and many to close.

Replay Andersonville temporarily closed on Jan. 4 of this year.

Mark Liberson, the owner of Replay and multiple bars and restaurants in Andersonville and Lakeview, said that 2020 has been “the most challenging year of my professional life.”

Liberson told his locations, including Elixr, Lark and Hydrate, are prepared to keep staff and guests safe after installing UV/Ionization Air Purification systems in all HVAC units and then supplementing that with medical-grade free-standing air purifiers in every room.

Hamburger Mary's in Andersonville closed for business on Nov. 1 after almost 15 years.

The bar and restaurant originally planned to move from their current location, 5400 N Clark, at the end of the year, but the pandemic led to the decision of an early closure instead.

And the oldest LGBTQ bar on the Northalsted strip, Little Jim's, closed its doors permanently in early-July. 

About 17% of America's restaurants permanently closed in 2020, according to a report by The National Restaurant Association. 

This story is still developing and will provide updates as Northalsted and Andersonville restaurants and bars make reopening announcements.

Related: IDPH Tier 1 mitigations information (PDF)