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Restaurant managers unsure of the future as outdoor dining expands in Normal

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NORMAL (HOI) --- Just in time for the sunny weather, restaurants in Uptown Normal are preparing for an increase in customers.

With extra outdoor dining comes a boost in business... or at least that is what some might think.

Restaurant owners and managers are still unsure about what lies ahead.

"I think this year is going to be a big deciding factor for a lot of small businesses," Sugar Mama Bakery owner Susie Tod said. "Can we survive the 'normalcy' of the after-effects of COVID?"

Some of the shops along the historic North Street are expanding their outdoor sections, and managers say the improved weather is an added bonus.

But they believe dining out could take some time to get back to what it once was.

"We are not totally sure. We're kind of just trying to plan ahead as much as we can, but we're needing to be flexible. We learned that this past year," Medici manager Delaney Auth said.

Managers say they’re grateful for the support from the town of normal when the pandemic hit last year.

Susie Tod says now in order to maintain a steady flow of customers, business owners need to work together and get creative.

"I currently meet with one other restaurant baker and we just talk through things and bounce stuff off each other," Tod said. Do we try to go to more online ordering?

Managers say another challenge is making sure they have enough staff available if business does begin to boom.

Harry Croton

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