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Agriculture

Learn safe, effective ways to open Illinois restaurants

URBANA — Local eateries, restaurants, cafes, pubs and coffee shops are the social and economic lifeblood of many Illinois communities. Following the stretch of statewide shutdowns that began in late March, residents may be eager to see their favorite food and drink establishments reopen and employees return to work.

To prepare for successful reopening in light of the changing food industry landscape, restaurant owners and managers may participate in two free, online webinars offered by the Illinois Restaurant Association and University of Illinois Extension, in conjunction with U of I College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Both Scaling UP webinars feature food service industry professionals, restaurant owners, and university hospitality management program faculty who will provide a comprehensive framework for strategically and safely reopening local establishments. Panelists will answer questions as time allows.

On May 28, the webinar will focus on financial considerations, including strategies to order effectively, prepare cost-effective menus, and operate in a COVID-aware environment. Explore financial analysis and break-even considerations for alternative food service models, such as food subscription and grocery market kits.

Included on the panel will be Chef Dustin Allen of Edge, along with U of I Food Science and Human Nutrition staff Jorden Brotherton, clinical assistant professor, and Carter Phillips, instructional chef and quantity food manager. Gretchen Ernst, customer support manager with Gordon Food Service, will provide broadliner perspective.

One may register online for the 10 a.m. May 28 webinar at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XqoIM-IUQGyil9Z1KRIYtg.
A second webinar will be held at 10 a.m. June 4 and features compliance resources and disinfectant practices which allow for a safe physical environment for patrons and staff. Strategies for instilling consumer confidence will be offered, as well as approaches for enhancing the customer experience while adhering to new operational guidelines. Tristan Popadziuk, owner and roastmaster for Roasting Company, will provide advice as an operator. One may register online for the June 4 webinar at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4ZLcdS0wQqWZq1deTSB6Lg.

If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in programming, contact Illinois Extension. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting accommodation needs.

University of Illinois Extension is the outreach effort of the University of Illinois, extending unbiased, research-based information to help residents identify and solve local problems that build better futures for individuals, families, businesses, farms, and communities. Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. The IRA owns and produces Chicago Gourmet — the annual food and wine festival uniting restaurants, chefs and beverage experts for a weekend filled with food and drink tastings, entertainment, cooking demonstrations, book signings, interactive seminars and more. The Association is also a proud co-host of the James Beard Foundation Awards, which will be held in Chicago through 2027.

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