Tajarin ragu at Osteria Langhe, like an edible security blanket Credit: Anthony Soave

It seemed within minutes of Governor Pritzker’s order to shut the door on dine-in customers at restaurants and bars (a not-intemperate reaction to scenes of drunken, emerald-colored idiots mobbing Wrigleyville and River North on Saturday), the Chicago restaurant community had mobilized. An organized campaign flooded social media, with independent chefs and owners thanking the governor but pleading for relief for the thousands of workers and small businesses bracing for a crushing hit once the ban took effect Tuesday at 9 PM.

Their demands:

  • Support for emergency unemployment benefits to all hourly and salaried workers furloughed during the crisis
  • An immediate elimination of the payroll tax
  • Rent and loan abatement for impacted workers

Nobody’s taking this sitting down.

The ban doesn’t restrict carryout or delivery, and while this makes up only a fraction of most restaurants’ business, continuing to order from them is one way you can help this critical slice of the local economy weather this shitstorm (you can also buy gift cards, T-shirts, and support the various service employee crowdfunding efforts starting to spring up). And here’s a growing spreadsheet listing links to relief efforts for bars and restaurants.

To that end, restaurant publicist Jenn Galdes and a fellow named Sean Lynch, who she had just met on Twitter, have launched Dining at a Distance, a site that aggregates who is open for takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup.

As of midday Tuesday, there were nearly 800 Chicago restaurants listed, with more coming, and five more cities. If you work for a restaurant that’s still offering food, you can submit your own details.

Me, I’m thinking an Nduja #4 delivered from Coalfire sounds pretty good tonight. Or maybe some crusty tadig from Noon-O-Kabab, or a clamshell of that lush tajarin ragu from Osteria Langhe. Yeahhh, all better now.  v