By CHRISTY JANKOWSKI
Since March 16, 2020, bars across the state of Illinois have been shuttered with the exception of curbside pickup.
The Depot, a fairly new bar in Cerro Gordo was given a curbside class A liquor license approval from the village on April 1 and that was renewed on May 18, during the Cerro Gordo Village Board Meeting.
On May 21, Governor Pritzker announced the allowance of outdoor seating with social distancing for bars and restaurants.
Owner Mark Kaufman said he was given permission from his lawyer, Thomas Devore, to reopen. Kaufman stated that Govore sent in the filed suits to the Illinois Department of Health with no response.
Kaufman stated no comment on village support in his choice to reopen.
When asked why he opened, Kaufman stated, “As a whole, America needs to step up and do what is right and do what is best.” He is not concerned, as he states, “Everyone came willingly.” He called it an “Anti-Coronavirus Party.” The bar easily had over 50 people within the first few hours of it being open. The information spread like wildfire across social media and amongst friends. Both Kaufman and bartender Amanda Rincker donned their normal Depot bartending t-shirts, except Rincker added a curse word that starts with f followed by Pritzker on the back.
That seemed to be the resounding message from all patrons.
Emily Mentzer, a resident of Cerro Gordo, stated she came out “To support that Pritzker sucks.” and is “not worried.” Anthony Good, another Cerro Gordo resident, “I have no fear, Trump 2020, Pritzker sucks.” Matthew Reeves, “Tired of being in lockdown.”
Amy Wagoner, “I have been dying to come out for a long time.” Wagoner took the furlough offered to her through her workplace, and stated she remained home for over 14 days after taking the furlough. “I know I’m not sick, I trust other people to stay home. If I were sick, I would not be here.” She added while she was not wearing a mask that evening, she normally wears one in public.
There were no masks present, and no social distancing guidelines. It was as if nothing had happened. When asked if he were concerned about that, “It’s not a law, everyone is in here willingly.” Kaufman added, “I would like to thank everyone that came out and showed support.”
The Depot had a DJ present as well, Kaufman told me many have messaged willing to play for only tips.
As far as whether or not he sees the State taking action on his choice to reopen his establishment defying the Governor’s Executive order, “If, not when they will.” However he has, “no fear” of the State closing his establishment.
According to other news outlets, the Piatt County Health Department and law enforcement are aware of the bar reopening.