During Year of Coronavirus, Local Businesses Forced to Adapt

Businesses around Hyde Park have found themselves changing the way they operate to accommodate shifting COVID-19 restrictions.


Matthew Lee

The storefront of Jade Court, a Chinese restaurant now open in Harper Court.

By Pranathi Posa, News Editor

When Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker announced the stay-at-home order last March, businesses around the state were plunged into uncertainty. In Hyde Park, local businesses struggled to keep doors open as the University community left campus. 

Bookstores in Hyde Park, such as Powell’s Books, the Seminary Co-op, and 57th Street Books have switched their operations almost entirely to online sales and curbside pick-up options. The Seminary Co-op set up a GoFundMe to cover immediate costs such as payroll and publisher bills. All three establishments remain open almost a year after the beginning of the pandemic.  

Restaurants and bars around the city and state have faced shifting guidelines and restrictions over the course of last year. In March, a stay-at-home order restricted indoor seating, causing establishments to scramble to set up takeout and delivery options. In the summer, some restrictions were lifted, allowing for socially distanced outdoor seating and limited indoor seating, but indoor services were once again halted on October 30 due to rising COVID-19 cases. As of February 18, restaurants are able to operate indoor seating at 25 percent capacity.  

In the immediate aftermath of the institution of COVID-19 restrictions, many Hyde Park restaurants opened up GoFundMe campaigns to support employees. Restaurants like Medici on 57th have been able to stay afloat by leaning on takeout options, while others like the Promontory have hosted small private events in lieu of their usual model of larger events. However, other establishments have not been able to make it through the pandemic. Local bakery chain Vanille Patisserie closed their Hyde Park location in the days immediately following the first stay-at-home order. More recently, Hyde Park saw the closure of Cafe Corea, a family-owned Korean restaurant cafe.  

There have also been some new openings in Hyde Park. This fall brought Wingstop and Taco Bell to East 53rd Street. In October, Jade Court, an acclaimed Cantonese restaurant, opened its doors in Harper Court. All three establishments have been operating in line with COVID-19 restrictions, primarily through takeout options and, in the case of Jade Court, partial seating options.