“The restaurant name is Harbor. We are in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. We opened officially on Jan. 21. … We are a new American, seasonal, regional menu, focusing on the Great Lakes, sourcing as locally as we can, when we can. We have a full raw bar, charcuterie program, rotisserie, a hearth oven. … We do tilt towards seafood.

“We do trout, walleye and black cod. Trout and walleye were the ones we sold the most. During the winter it gets trickier because the lake freezes and we can’t get lake fish, so we go to the river fish and adjust things.

“When the mandate came for all the restaurants to shut down, we did do carry-out for about a day and a half. And then with all the uncertainty about the pandemic and where things were headed, we just wanted to use an abundance of caution and not put the staff at risk, or put our guests at risk, so we decided to cease operations until the picture was a little clearer. So we’ve layed low for the past three-ish weeks and we’re eyeballing at least doing curbside service on Friday.

“It’s going to be a very different menu than what we typically would have. We wanted to put things out there that were going to travel well, that were more of a family-style meal. The menu isn’t going to have any fish.

“Everyone is temporarily laid off. We’re going to have one of our sous-chefs, a salaried employee who’s going to help with the food preparation. In general everyone is standing, waiting in the wings until we’re allowed to open back up regularly, which obviously no one knows when that’s going to be yet.

“Some people say it’s going to be May or June before we’re able to open up, there’s speculation it could go into July. Anything that really helps us between now and then I think is a positive.

“The goal is just to bring some revenue in. Obviously, there are a lot of programs being offered by the federal and state government that we’re applying for, but we can’t just sit and wait. … The goal will be to help the neighborhood. The people in our neighborhood still need to eat and enjoy dining out a lot.

“There are four partners. The name of the company is G Dock LLC. … Two of the partners have been lifelong sailors and that is the letter of the dock where one parks his sailboat. It was one of those, ‘Well, we need a name.’ ‘Hey, this will work.’

“Not many restaurants keep a lot of cash on hand. There’s a handful in our neighborhood alone that I know of that had just opened. There was one that I think was open three days before they had to shut down. We had at least a good eight or nine weeks of business under our belts to be able to have something in the reserves. And now we’re just applying for those grants and loans and hoping they happen sooner rather than later.

“If the timing does work out [with] the [progressive income] tax increase right after we’re able to open up – that’s going to be difficult.

“Anything that’s delayed at this point [taxes or other business expenses] I think would be beneficial. Our property taxes are not inexpensive. So, if that’s money we can keep in our accounts to pay to vendors or pay the staff, every dollar would help.

“There is a lot that’s being done. A lot of the early legislation that was passed was very positive. Our biggest issue for our restaurant in particular is just the ineligibility of some of the funds because we can’t prove revenue from last year, and so we’re just asking to get the same assistance that other restaurants that are more established than ours are getting.

“We actually started a petition on Change.org three days ago just to bring some attention to that matter. I think we’re approaching 1,500 signatures right now. … We need to make it known that we need the same help that everyone else is getting.”

Chris Parth
Partner in G Dock LLC, operating Harbor restaurant
Chicago, Illinois