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Defying Pritzker, Elburn village president supports Eddie Gaedel's decision to reopen for indoor seating

Jeff Walter: 'Good for them'

Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill in downtown Elburn.
Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill in downtown Elburn.

ELBURN – Elburn Village President Jeff Walter enjoyed a meal inside Eddie Gaedel's Pub and Grill on May 21, the day the establishment re-opened its doors despite Gov. JB Pritzker's Executive Order that prohibits indoor seating in restaurants and bars.

"I support the owner's decision and it's good for them," Walter said. "They're doing what's right for their business. The owners are aware that we are not enforcing the Executive Order in Elburn, nor is the Kane County Sheriff. They decided to open, and I was there when they did."

There are safety precautions in place at Eddie Gaedel's, as tables are separated by plastic sheeting, the capacity limit has been lowered to 20 people, and a tall plastic splash guard separates the bartender from patrons at the bar. However, face coverings are not required.

"There are Elburnities who go to Lowe's, Home Depot or Jewel, and we haven't seen a spike in cases," Walter said. "I don't see that 20 people getting together in a room will have much of an impact."

Walter has been vocal in his criticism of Pritzker's order. He issued a letter to the Governor earlier this month to urge him to allow Elburn to reopen its businesses, and to be removed from the northeast region, which includes Chicago and the collar counties, in the Restore Illinois plan.

"I think there is so much to be tested with the Governor's order," he said. "We're all aware that state law says no more than 30 days for an emergency declaration, and this has gone on longer for 30 days. So there's a lot of concern about the constitutionality about keeping smaller businesses closed. I don't understand how it's OK for people to wander around Home Depot, or other places that are open, but a small business can't open. These folks are the bread and butter of small towns. It hurts everyone when they're closed."

Walter said that the village is anticipating between a 20-25% reduction in income from lost sales tax revenue from the shutdown.

The entire state is poised to move into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan on Friday, which permits outdoor seating at restaurants and bars.

"People have been cooped out, they want to get out," he said. "They're excited for businesses to open back up. I can imagine this weekend will be pretty crazy. We'll see how this goes. We're keeping an eye on it."

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