River North restaurants cut hours more than any area in US during COVID: survey
Restaurants in River North cut their operating hours more during the COVID-19 pandemic than restaurants in any other part of the country, according to a new survey.
Some restaurants have stopped serving lunch altogether. Some restaurants are now closed several days a week to remain profitable.
On average, River North restaurants in the 60654 ZIP code cut 20.2 hours per week between October 2019 and October 2022, according to an analysis by Datassential, a Chicago-based firm.
That figure massively outpaces the national average drop of 6.4 hours per week over the same period, the analysis shows.
In terms of operating hours cut, New York City has 12 of the top 15 ZIP codes — but the River North was higher than any of them, taking the top spot.
But why were River North restaurants the most vulnerable?
Restaurant owners point to several factors: inflation, a persistent lack of workers, changing consumer habits. But the biggest issue may be workers’ sluggish return to downtown.
“River North got hit the hardest because it was so close to the financial district — but it never really brought people back to work,” said Sam Sanchez, CEO of Third Coast Hospitality.
Sanchez hasn’t held lunch service at his two River North restaurants, Tree House Chicago and Moe’s Cantina, since COVID hit.
Sanchez said he’d go out of business if he didn’t cut those lunch hours, since labor made up so much of his operating costs. And he hasn’t seen