The Chicago NATO Host Committee and the Illinois Restaurant Association held a forum today to dispense information and answer questions from association members about what to expect later this month when the NATO summit is held in Chicago.
Not knowing what to expect from the international visitors and the local crowds during the NATO weekend has many restaurateurs scratching their heads and wondering how to prepare.
"More and more people talk about not going to work and not coming downtown that day, and in fact leaving town and planning trips to go away," Keefer's Restaurant owner Glenn Keefer tells WGN. "We hear about people that are encouraged not to stay downtown, and that really is a concern for us."
As part of the information process to allay fears and concerns of Illinois Rrstaurant Association members, the association is predicting that May will be a very busy month, with the huge National Restaurant Association convention jump starting the activity.
But logistics can be difficult to plan for. And bars and taverns far away from the demonstrations still have concerns.
"I'm more concerned about the crosstown series that weekend, whether or not it's going to overlap, and just to be prepared about any types of street closures," says Ari Strauss ofSluggers World Class Sports Bar and Dueling Pianos in Wrigleyville.
Optimistic business owners believe it will be a great weekend in Chicago.
"There's a lot of delegates in town. They have to eat and dine somewhere," says Billy Lawless, owner of The Gage and Henri restaurants in the Loop. "So hopefully it will be at my restaurants."
With thousands of dignitaries and members of the press converging on Chicago at one time, city officials are hoping their stay here is so enjoyable that they will return.