(FILE)

After closing in response to COVID-19 on March 16, Burger Antics, at 3740 Grand Blvd. in Brookfield, has reopened after three and a half months.

The idea of remaining closed until Illinois reached Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan came naturally to Dan Velcich and his wife Brenna, co-owners of Burger Antics, but over the months the restaurant was closed, the couple struggled with whether or not they had made the right decision.

“There was a lot of demand from customers who wanted us to open for takeout and outdoor dining in earlier phases,” said Dan Velcich. “People were always understanding when we explained that we were waiting until Phase 4 to reopen for safety reasons.”

Velcich and his wife prioritized the health and safety of their customers and were committed to supporting their employees through this challenging time. Initially they thought COVID-19 would shutter Burger Antics for just two weeks. The extended closure, however, allowed the duo to deep clean and sanitize the restaurant while their employees were able to take full advantage of unemployment benefits. 

As Illinois entered Phase 4, Burger Antics employees eagerly returned to work to discover a fresh feel in the dining room and an immaculate kitchen.

Burger Antics boasts a newly painted dining room. All the artwork has been cleaned and rehung, and the owners replaced all the sound-reducing panels in the restaurant to ensure the space met strict cleanliness standards. 

The restaurant kitchen was thoroughly sanitized before the walls, ceiling and doors were freshly painted and the floors were refinished.

“We wanted to make it clear to our staff and customers that we are serving the nicest, safest and cleanest food in Brookfield,” said Velcich.

Additionally, the owners invested in a new point-of-sale system for the restaurant. The new system allows for online ordering through the Burger Antics website. According to Velcich, carryout business since the restaurant reopened on June 26 has been so robust that it has made up for the diminished capacity social distancing requirements have created in the dining room. Burger Antics has 10 tables stationed six feet apart in the dining room, allowing for a total of 32 dine-in guests.

“We were a little bogged down by carryout orders the first Friday we were open,” said Velcich. “We were on a high learning curve, but by Saturday everything was manageable, and things have been great since.”

Additionally, Burger Antics has new operating hours. The restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We wanted to focus on our busiest times as we reopened, said Velcich. “We actually extended our hours on Sunday.”

The streamlined schedule keeps overhead costs down and keeps employees busy. Velcich indicates the new hours have been working well and said they will consider opening for additional days as they are able to increase seating in the restaurant.

“We took a negative and turned it into a positive,” said Velcich. “We tried to maximize the time we were closed as best we could and we will have better operations as we go forward.”

Velcich and his wife Brenna have been at Burger Antics every minute the restaurant has been open and doing everything they can to keep people safe. Wait times were a little longer than anticipated when the restaurant reopened, but customers have been patient and supportive. Velcich credits the sense of community he and his wife have fostered at Burger Antics for the positive reaction to their reopening. 

“It makes us feel good that decisions we made worked for us, our employees and our customers,” said Velcich.