Dear Mayor: First we want to thank you for taking a stand with the thousands of people in the Hospitality Industry in our community by not enforcing the Governors orders for this weekend. I am sure you will agree it's our restaurants, bars and the many unique venues we have that has built this great city. There is a lot of history in our hospitality industry and history is the story of the fabricate of our community. As you know, John and I own and operate Godfather's Pizza. In Springfield we have two Godfather's Locations. We also have the Dew Chilli Parlor and Dew Chilli Pub and Grills. There are 3 locations. Between these five locations there are 100 incredible people who proudly serve our community. Some are married, some are single, nearly all are parents of small children. Some of our staff are elderly folks supplementing their income, and some are veterans, and some with special needs often pushed aside in life because they are different. But all are great people. To John and I they are family. John and I invested in our locations, locations that have become landmarks in our community. Before we took them over they were on the verge of closing. Dew is over 111 years old and founded in Springfield, Illinois. It's now going national through the New Dew Chilli Canned product. Just that production has provided many jobs on the production line not included in the numbers of people employed in the store locations. Dew is giving our country a taste of our great city, representing our city in a positive way. Godfather’s is the oldest location in the Nation. When the Movie Godfather came out the Dirksen Parkway store location was opened. It too was nearly closed but John and I saw potential and bought it. Today, it has come back from the brink of closure to being the 6th highest volume location in the Country and has been operating in our community for over 50 years, and it's here in Springfield. It's been featured in movies and draws thousands of tourists each year to our great city. Our business, like so many others businesses in Springfield is what built our city. These landmarks will likely not survive another shut down. That means all the people we described above are left with no income, no insurance, no hope. We are writing to urge you to not enforce the Governor's order to close indoor eating and drinking operations for bars and restaurants in Springfield. Our business and that of our colleagues and competitors are close to collapse and further limitations on our ability to stay open and serve our community will mean the end of our business. Since the COVID-19 crisis started, we have taken numerous steps to make sure our business is a safe place for our customers and our employees. This has included purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), instituting new policies for cleaning and sanitizing, and generally following the guidelines put forth by Illinois and the CDC. We do temperature checks each shift. We have installed plexiglass and have professional cleaning crews come in our locations to sanitize on top of our staff rigorous cleaning. We have gone above and beyond to keep our community safe. To keep our people working. To keep our City Strong. It is frustrating that despite our efforts, the severe restrictions on our business are not tied or linked to anything that has happened in our business. Bars and restaurants appear to be shouldering all the blame for an uptick in COVID-19 cases that, to our knowledge, has not been traced to bars and restaurants. Not only is this unfair, it is ineffective and does not address the larger problem. By closing our business, the Governor is removing our ability to make sure that beer, wine and spirits are consumed safely in our community. Instead, drinking is being driven underground to house parties and other gatherings where social distancing, masking and other safety protocols are not in place or enforced. The Governor is driving people to the very places that are causing a surge in COVID-19. So the Governor's order is feed COVID-19 not beat it. Your order to not enforce the Governor's order allows John and I and our employees do our part to provide safe hospitality environments for our fellow Illinoisans. Allows us to help defeat COVID-19. As winter approaches, the days turn darker and the weather turns colder, We are reaching a breaking point, just as so many of our fellow bar and restaurant owners are across the state. We got into this business because we believe in people, community and providing a “third place” where people can go to enjoy themselves with family and friends. But if these operating restrictions continue, we will be unable to stay in business through the winter. Please work with leaders in the Springfield and Illinois hospitality industry to find a way to effectively respond to ongoing public health crisis while minimizing the already outsized burden and economic crisis that is devastating Illinois bars and restaurants like ours. You have the power to stand with thousands in our community by not going along with the Governor's unscientific restrictions. Monday, 150 owners and operators got together with a few officials from the State, City, County and the Health Department. You were invited but we were told you had a prior engagement. I wish you were there and you would have heard what we did. The Director of the health department said something that is alarming. We appreciate the Directors honesty. The Director in front of all these people stated. "Not one case of COVID outbreaks have been traced to a bar or restaurant" The Director went on to say that the issue has been with Nursing homes, Dorm Rooms and House Parties and Prisons. The Director went on to say that in fact bars and restaurants have one of the lowest percentages of COVID. The Director said bars and restaurants are being shut down because we can shut them down. It's where people are. Those comments stunned us. Again, we appreciate the honesty. The Governor even said it's hard to determine where a case came from, saying COVID can't be traced to a bar or restaurant. It's just assumed it's our industry because people gather there for a brief time. Just what the Director told us Monday. Think of this Mayor. The Big Box stores where hundreds and hundreds of people enter these big box stores. All touching product on the shelves, sneezing, wiping their noises and then placing the products back on the shelves after deciding not to buy it. Compare that to trained professionals, all trained on COVID safety measures and following all guidelines serving the community. Logically, you would think it's the later locations, the bars and restaurants that are the safer place to be. Mayor, a lot of pressure will be put on you by the Governor if you defy his orders. But, we ask that you remove yourself from party affiliation and stay strong. You, in your hands have the ability to save the livelihood of many people. Remember COVID has a 97% survival rate, better rate than the flu. Closing us down is a 100% death sentence impacting our community for years to come.
Mike Monseur John Leskovisek Godfather’s Pizza and Dew Chilli Parlor’s Of America