[ UPDATE: This article, published on March 18, was updated March 23 to note that Dining at a Distance’s directory of Chicago restaurants doing delivery and/or curbside pickup had increased to almost 1,900; the original version said “more than 1,000.” The number of cities with their own Dining at a Distance also increased from 11 U.S. cities to 35 and from one foreign city to two. Also added was information that the site has started listing local farms that provide food delivery or pickup.]
The mandatory closures to limit the spread of COVID-19 could mean financial disaster for Illinois restaurants — except many are responding by upping their delivery and take-out game. And now there is a website, Dining at a Distance, that has created a directory of nearly 1,900 Chicago restaurants that are fulfilling customers’ to-go orders.
As reported by Eater Chicago, Dining at a Distance was created virtually overnight by Chicago residents Sean Lynch and Jenn Galdes, who had independently come up with similar ideas and were introduced by an intermediary just this past Sunday. Several leading Chicago chefs contributed their advice.
The largely crowd-sourced site includes a ton of granular details: not just restaurant name, address and contact information, but also whether each restaurant does delivery, takeout/curbside pickup or both, which delivery services they use, or whether the delivery comes direct from the restaurant (some diners with health concerns feel more comfortable having restaurant employees deliver their food than third-party delivery services).
There is a form on the site to submit additional restaurants for the list. And the idea is so potent that it has already been expanded to 35 other cities in the United States — visit their home page to see which ones — plus Berlin, Germany, and Paris, France overseas.
And for you local food lovers, Dining at a Distance has started a directory of local farms in various regions that provide food delivery or pickup — a feature that supplements the closed-for-the-duration farmers markets that are providing online “virtual” markets for their vendors. Nine Great Lakes farms, most of which are very familiar in the Chicago area, were listed as of the night of March 23.
Your patronage of your favorite restaurants during this trying time will make it more likely they will still be around when the COVID crisis lifts. Be calm and carry out!