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‘Not Everybody’s Pleasant’: Chicago Restaurant Owner Says He’s Gotten Rude Customers, Death Threats, Over Its Sign To Show Vax Card

By Shardaa Gray

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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Fed up and short staffed.

This is what local businesses are saying as the new vaccine card requirement has gone into effect. It’s only day two and one business said they’re already getting pushback. CBS 2’s Shardaa Gray reports from Little Italy where one business received death threats.

Hawkeye’s Bar and Grill, said about 60% of its patrons have shown their vaccine card, but the other 40% refuse to show it, whether they have it or not. And it’s all because of a sign posted on their business.

Leonard DeFranco, owner of Hawkeye’s Bar and Grill is being judged from both ends of the spectrum.

“It’s right down the line from the person who takes the calls,” DeFranco said.

From death threats to not doing enough to keep his patrons safe, he’s heard it all.

“Fifty-percent think I’m a communist or we’re a communist because we support the vaccination card,” DeFranco said. “And the other 50% think we shouldn’t be doing it at all and why aren’t we pushing back?”

DeFranco said he isn’t pushing back because he wants to stay in business.

“We’re just trying to comply, keep our license and not get fined,” DeFranco said. “But it puts us in the a terrible state with the customers.”

Not only does it make it awkward for his relationship with the customers, but he’s short staffed on certain days and didn’t get funding from the Small Business Administration Restaurant Revitalization Fund for his business.

“This establishment did not receive, whatever funds they want to call it, from the SBA. We applied, did not receive it,” DeFranco said, who added that money would help ease the pain of customers who won’t comply.

“We would probably spend it on additional security, you know, put somebody up there on the weekends at the podiums to check the cards and deal with the irate customers,” DeFranco said. “Not everybody’s pleasant.”

The city said its enforcement team is seeing general compliance with indoor vaccine requirements, similar to the mask mandate that went into effect at the end of the summer. But a viral TikTok video tells a different story.

“I got an email from F45 Training saying that they are not going to be collecting vaccine cards. I don’t know, what do you guys think, should I tell Lori?”

Lori refers to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. We reached out to F45 Training in River North about the viral TikTok video and not enforcing the vaccine mandate. CBS 2 hasn’t heard back, but an updated TikTok video shows an email sent out from the business, saying it will now ask for vaccine cards.

As for Hawkeye’s, they do have security cameras to catch patrons who get out of hand, but the owner said he doesn’t want it to get to that situation.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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