LOGAN SQUARE — Lost Lake, Logan Square’s beloved tiki bar, has temporarily laid off all of its employees during the coronavirus shutdown.
The goal is for employees to get unemployment benefits faster and to hire them back when things return to normal, according to co-owner Shelby Allison.
It’s a strategy many restaurants and bars are employing during the unprecedented bar and restaurant shutdown in Illinois, which was enacted over the weekend to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Like countless other bars and restaurants across Chicago, Lost Lake is also urging patrons to tip its workers online.
The Logan Square tiki bar at 3154 W. Diversey Ave. had already raised $13,738 toward its $20,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.
Those who donate will get a “quarantine-friendly” twice-weekly email newsletter with favorite cocktail and food recipes (including some that until now, the staff had refused to publicize, according to co-owner Shelby Allison), Q&As with Lost Lakers and other tidbits.
“You’ll be able to learn about plants from our bartender Andy or you can find out what workouts Louise is sharing,” Allison said.
“I didn’t want to just stick our hand out. I wanted to offer something to the people who are also staying home. I wanted to find a way that we can also stay connected as a community.”
Allison said if she and her business partners reach the $20,000 fundraising goal, they’ll extend it. They’re also exploring other fundraising ideas like making T-shirts or doing video consultations for folks who have home bars.
“Our bartenders are truly incredible, and, to me, the way they’ve treated patrons is coming back to them,” she said.
But Allison noted that a successful fundraiser, on its own, won’t save Lost Lake.
“I have 25 staff members. That’s not even $1,000 per person. … It’s nothing they would be making on their checks,” she said.
“We’re a pretty healthy business, and I’m optimistic that assistance and benefits from our state and federal government [will make us] financially capable of opening on the other side of this. … But the restaurant business operates on very thin margins.”
Allison added that she hopes people are “spreading out the generosity” as the coronavirus ripple effect continues.
“We have a vast amount of people in our country in the same boat and don’t have the resources we do,” she said.
Tuesday saw the first COVD-19 death in Illinois: A 61-year-old woman from the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
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