Chicago City Council Member Accused Of Running ‘COVID Speakeasy’ At His Dine-In Restaurant

As Chicago slaps restaurants with fines and shutdowns for violating Democratic Gov. Pritzker’s order against dine-in eating, Chicago City Council Alderman Tom Tunney (D) has been accused of running a “COVID speakeasy” after photos emerged on a local blog of people eating inside one of his three restaurants. Of note, dine-in eating has been banned in Chicago since October 30.

According to Second City Cop – a blog devoted to police issues, a tipster sent photos of themselves dining in at Tunney’s restaurant, Ann Sather. The photo includes a placemat menu for the restaurant, a copy of the New York Times from December 3, and clearly shows people dining in.

You enter the restaurant and ask the staff on the sly, “Can we dine in?” They’ll look around and whisper, “Yes” and take you to the “VIP Room.” Chances improve dramatically if they know you, and they knew our contributor. –Second City Cop

If anyone had further doubts, the decor matches a photo posted to Chicago building contractor Chas Bender & Co’s website.

In a Monday article in the Chicago Sun Times, Tunney acknowledged having defied Governor J.B. Pritzker’s order, saying “We have, on occasion, sat regular diners in the back of the restaurant. I acknowledge that. It’s not OK. I made a mistake, and I’m owning up to it. I should have not sat regular customers in my restaurant whatsoever.”

“I have a lot of repeat customers over the years. On a sporadic basis, I have let regular customers — very few and far between — in my store. I made an error,” he added.

Tunney was asked why he chose to defy the state and city orders. Was it because his restaurant was fighting for survival during a pandemic that has forced many Chicago restaurants to close?

“Everyone’s struggling,” he said. “I’m not gonna equate my situation with anyone else’s.”

Under repeated questioning about how many customers he had served indoors, Tunney hung up on a Chicago Sun-Times reporter.

In September, Tunney told that he’s put $250,000 of his own money – including proceeds from real estate sales – to replace lost revenue. It looks like running dine-in service at his restaurant while other Chicago restaurants die on the vine is also helping the city official.