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'Next Friday, bring it on' | How Granite City businesses are prepping for Phase 3 reopening

Phase 3 allows restaurants to resume outdoor dining. That's a problem for places that don't have outdoor seating... yet

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — Every time the side door opens with a curbside order at Ravanelli's in Granite City, a small bell rings, signifying another sale under their ever-adapting business model.

"Because it's a restaurant, it's very fluid," manager Jamie Edwards said with a laugh. 

The restaurant off Nameoki Road has long offered takeout, but Edwards said they started curbside and delivery when Illinois closed restaurant dining rooms in March.

Through the front door, you can see silverware that's been untouched for months, signs still advertise St. Patrick's Day deals.

On Wednesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced most of the state would likely move to Phase 3 of its "Restore Illinois" plan soon, allowing restaurants to begin outdoor dining on May 29.

RELATED: Here’s what can reopen if parts of Illinois move to Phase 3 on May 29

Though they have multiple dining rooms, Ravanelli's does not have outdoor seating. At least, not yet.

"We just today started discussing our options of what we can do. We do have a little bit of space," Edwards said gesturing to the expansive parking lot and sidewalk. "We may be able to put a few tables out."

Gov. Pritzker said municipalities are encouraged to help bars and restaurants expand their outdoor seating options. Tables will have to be 6 feet apart and away from sidewalks. Masks and distancing measures for staff must continue to be followed.

RELATED: Granite City launches rebuilding plan for small business economy

Nearby, Pair-A-Dice Tan owner Mariah Hutchins said they will reopen in just 10 days.

"Next Friday, bring it on," she said, adding they stayed afloat during the stay-at-home mandate by taking customers' orders and hand-delivering lotion during what should have been peak season.

"In the tan industry, March 1 is our busy season. So, it took everything away from us. That is kind of the money I sit on for the rest of the year," Hutchins said. "I did not think these doors were going to open. I thought I was going to move in with my mom into her basement."

Personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo shops, spas and barbershops can open with capacity limits and Illinois Department of Public Health precautions in place.

Hutchins has worked in the Nameoki Road salon since she was 16, buying the joint almost two years ago. She now believes her customer base is strong enough that she will recoup her losses.

"Whatever we gotta do, we will do it," Hutchins said.

READ MORE: Breaking down Illinois' 5-step reopening plan

Even if they don't get those outdoor tables, Edwards said the new option to sit outside fosters optimism. Indoor dining was scheduled to resume June 26, a day that still seems very distant even as cars inch closer to the Ravanelli's side door.

"This has given us a little more hope that maybe we won't have to wait until June 26. Maybe things will continue to improve and look better and hopefully open sooner," Edwards said.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.

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