Local businesses ‘cautiously optimistic’ heading into spring


As Evanston nears the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown, it is undeniable just how much the pandemic has shaped how our modern world functions. To see this in real-time, look no further than Evanston businesses. The effects COVID-19 has had on almost every store in Evanston has created lasting problems. 

Having so many businesses being negatively affected has created a ripple effect throughout the Evanston community. The COVID-19 surge sparked worldwide losses in jobs, businesses, and revenue. Restaurants, clothing stores, grocery stores and so many more have had to shut down due to the loss of employees and resources. 

During the pandemic, many restaurants have had to adapt to the new COVID-19 protocols provided by the state and the CDC. Stacked & Folded, in Evanston, has changed their COVID-19 rules based on the government’s rules and the comfortability of their staff and customers. They have seen both negative and positive effects because of the pandemic. 

“The changes we’ve seen overall are our relationship to customers.The entire service industry is face to face service… [Customers could be] potentially breathing and spitting germs on each other, which we can’t afford to have right now,” Jill Harvey, the Bar manager at Stacked and Folded, says. 

Of late, many people in the Evanston community are going out more, being less strict with mask wearing in public places, and overall being more relaxed because COVID-19 has significantly died down since the start of the pandemic, or even just a few months ago. 

“Overall, our numbers are actually much better [than earlier in the pandemic]. Mostly due to pandemic fatigue, a lot more people are going out without as much judgment,” Harvey says. 

North Shore Racquet Club, a popular tennis facility in Glenview, has also gotten lucky with a few positive impacts from COVID-19, starting with an increase in business once COVID-19 began to settle down in June 2020. “Tennis was perceived as a safe COVID sport because there is already a lot of social distancing. So, as we finally got through it a little bit, we had a lot of people come to North Shore Racquet Club and want to start tennis more than we have been able to handle. We have been busier once we got to the point where we could start doing things more normally on court and have our normal drills and numbers and our programs could run normal. I would say in the last year, we have shown a slight uptrend in terms of business,” explains manager Jerry Morse Karzen. 

However, it hasn’t always been that easy. When COVID-19 started, the club was shut down due to the CDC guidelines, resulting in a drastic change for the business. 

“We had two and a half months of absolutely nothing happening at the club, which was not a good thing,” Karzen shares. “Obviously, we shut down because of concerns about safety but also just from a business standpoint, nothing happened. Zero money coming into the club, and zero work available for our employees.”

As the numbers start to decrease, and the Evanston community strives for normalcy, local businesses look forward to spring. 

“We try to listen to the science and what they say, and obviously there are different opinions on what needs to be done but I think we have gotten to a point where people are trying to live with COVID; as in living our lives normally but still understanding that COVID is out there,” Karzen says. “I am kind of anticipating we are getting back to normal for a bit; I am cautiously optimistic.”