Businesses across Illinois closing include mix of early retirements prompted by pandemic

ILLINOIS — More than three months into the pandemic, some businesses across the state are opening back up just to close for good.

Some business owners said it’s just time to retire. Others said COVID-19 was the last straw.

The state’s Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification, or WARN reports, show since March companies have announced more than 27,900 layoffs announced for the months ahead. The impacted businesses include full-service restaurants, linen supply businesses, fitness and recreation centers, retailers and hotels. But those WARN reports are only required for employers with 75 or more full-time workers and only if there are 25 or more layoffs expected.

Since the beginning of March, 1.4 million Illinoisans have filed for unemployment benefits, mainly driven by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s orders prohibiting certain businesses from being open to the public. Now that the state has fewer restrictions, businesses across the state are coming back online. But some are closing for good.

TNT Sports Bar in Peoria Heights is closing, but The Peoria Journal Star reported it’s because of the owner’s retirement, not because of COVID-19. The Rockford Register Star reported Old Time Pottery is closing due to the company’s bankruptcy. The Daily Herald reported the owners of an independent downtown boutique in Elgin are set to close later this month.

In Freeport the Family Affair cafe announced they were selling their business, not because of COVID-19. “We are not selling because of COVID-19…we are not having any problems at all. We are one of the best restaurants in Freeport! I’m simply at a point in my life that I’d like to semiretire”, the restaurant told their social media followers on July 1.

Also listed for sale in Freeport was the Spring Grove restaurant, however no word as to why.

In Springfield, several longtime restaurants are closing their downtown operations. Linda Renehan, owner of retailer Springfield Vintage, isn’t closing. But, as a board member of Downtown Springfield Inc. she said it’s hard to see stores around her closing.

“Ninety percent of what’s downtown is local,” Renehan said. “It’s mom and pop. It’s people working in their own shop. It’s people that didn’t get money, the retailers that didn’t get money during the loans and grants, a lot of them didn’t get anything.”

She said it’s difficult coming back from the shutdown.

“It’s tough work right now,” Renehan said. “You’re taking your business and basically being forced to rebuild it no matter what.”

She said some older business owners may take the cue to just retire instead of opening back up. But, she said as storefronts become vacant, it gives local leaders the impetus to bring in new investment.

“What are you doing to breathe back the life into your downtown and we just need to kind of find that new generation of people to do it,” Renehan said. “And so I think the timing is kind of great for that if we can just find the entrepreneurs to step up.”

The Center Square – 

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