LOGAN SQUARE — After Gov. JB Pritzker ordered restaurants and bars closed to dine-in customers earlier this month, 90 Miles Cuban Cafe shifted to delivery and takeout.
The Cuban staple is now “very busy” with those to-go orders, owner Alberto Gonzalez said. Gonzalez said deliveries are up 300 percent.
But that money alone won’t save the restaurant.
“We definitely need more than that,” Gonzalez said. “What it’s doing is creating a minimum cash flow to be able to take care of the essentials. … I contemplated shutting down completely, but with that little money coming in, somebody’s getting a paycheck.”
Like countless restaurant owners throughout Chicago and the country, Gonzalez is asking neighbors to step up and donate to keep his employees paid and his business running during and after the crisis.
“We’ve been so active within charities and the community. … At this point, the community should come together and help a small business that has been supporting them,” he said.
90 Miles has two locations — one in Logan Square at 2540 W. Armitage Ave and one in Roscoe Village at 3101 N. Clybourn Ave.
The Roscoe Village restaurant, a small carryout spot, opened first, in September 2008. The Logan Square restaurant, a sit-down restaurant with an enclosed patio, opened in June 2009.
90 Miles went on to become a Chicago staple. The restaurant is known for its authentic Cuban cuisine — everything from toasted Cubano sandwiches to empanadas — and lively, tropical atmosphere. When there’s no live music, Latin music blares from the speakers and sangria flows.
Now, with the coronavirus shutdown in full effect, the restaurant is quiet, with only a “skeleton crew” of employees working delivery and takeout orders.
Gonzalez said he’s worried about his 50 employees — worried they’re “not going to have food on the table.”
“I put myself second,” he said.
But the Havana native said he’s optimistic his restaurant — and the city — will get through this crisis and come out stronger.
He said it helps that everyone is in the same boat — not just restaurants, but creditors, too.
“That’s what keeps me sane. If it would be me going through this thing alone, that would be a totally different thing,” he said.
Gonzalez is so optimistic, in fact, that he’s already thinking about how he’ll prepare for big summer crowds.
“Once you open the floodgates that everyone has been hibernating in their houses for weeks and weeks, people are going to want to enjoy summer,” he said.
“The moment that we get the OK it’s safe to go about your days, I’m putting a team of contractors together to [upgrade] the place the way we usually do in the summer. We’re expecting a tremendous amount of traffic.”
Donate to 90 Miles Cuban Cafe’s online fundraiser here.
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