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Midway, West Lawn

Southwest Side Restaurant Week Aims To Keep Neighborhood Spots Afloat During Pandemic

By offering $5 gift cards and discounts, Southwest Side restaurants hope locals will order takeout and delivery.

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WEST LAWN — A group of Southwest Side restaurants has come together to help each other get through the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus shutdown by participating in Southwest Restaurant Week.

The event, which runs through April 5, was created by Eddie Guillen, president of the Southwest Chamber of Commerce, which is located at 4120 W. 63rd St. in West Lawn.

The idea is to drive move business to the restaurants by giving incentives and spreading awareness that they are still open, Guillen said.

“Me and my wife always go to Restaurant Week Downtown and since everyone is sheltering in place, I figured why not do it here,” Guillen said.

There are currently 35 restaurants participating, and at least 12 are offering a $5 credit or gift card to be used on their next order to those who spend more than $20 and mention Southwest Restaurant Week.

Guillen said not all can afford to offer any incentive and are participating just so people know they are still open. 

“I know some are closed and a lot of them are saying they will be part of it but that $5 really makes a difference, which I completely understand. Things are hard right now,” he said, adding that if the public response is good they may extend the event beyond April 5.

Mirna Rizera, owner of El Tarasco, 4358 W. 51st St., is offering the deal to those who spend more than $20, saying while offering any discount during the current struggle is tough, it’s also important for her business.  

“It is tough to offer but I feel like we have to offer this, along with breakfast specials that we have for $3.99, in order to have hours for our waitresses and employees because they have families,” Rizera said. “We are trying to stay open and give reasonable prices to our customers, some of whom aren’t working now or if they are they are limited on what they can purchase.”

One way Rizera is able to get by and continue offering hours to her waitresses is by not using third-party vendors for delivery.

“We don’t use third-party services like Uber Eats or DoorDash. I actually have the waitresses doing deliveries. They get tips and they work based off that,” Rizera said.  “I feel like with the third-party apps I’d have to up the prices because they take a percentage and I really don’t want to do that. I rather give it to the girls. We charge a $3 delivery fee which they keep along with any tips and they get paid as a tipped employee from us, so I still can give them hours. It’s been working for us and have gotten a great response from the community.”

A Cup of Joe, 6806 W. Archer Ave., is also offering a $5 credit or gift card to be used on their next order to those who spend more than $20 and mention the event.

The morning barista at the West Lawn coffeeshop, Gaby, said the event is important to let people know that they are still open. 

“It’s just to give people another option. Yes, $5 is a lot right now but at the end of the day we just want to be able to keep offering quality products and let people know we’re here,” she said.

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