Restaurants, the courthouse and other stuff

Be careful out there

click to enlarge Police chief Kenny Winslow, left, says he'll give Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath, right, a chance to produce a doctor's note before ticketing him for not wearing a mask. - PHOTO BY BRUCE RUSHTON
Photo By Bruce Rushton
Police chief Kenny Winslow, left, says he'll give Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath, right, a chance to produce a doctor's note before ticketing him for not wearing a mask.

Don't look now, but the Springfield restaurant scene may not appear as dire as it seems, fingers crossed a vaccine is afoot.

American Harvest Eatery closed last spring on the west side but, at last report, was moving to perceived greener pastures. Vele has left downtown to go west for perceived greener pastures in space formerly occupied by American Harvest Eatery. The taqueria near my house is still serving, thank goodness.

And then there is Boone's Saloon, the watering hole walking distance from the Capitol that has the city's coolest beer garden – gotta love those shade trees – and a new owner. Lobbyist Chris Stone, aka father of Lucy's Place/cannabis entrepreneur/real estate investor who buys for cheap, has acquired the keys and brought on Mike Zengilani, longtime manager of Café Moxo on Adams Street, as his partner. Stone says Zengilani has departed Moxo to run Boone's. "I wouldn't do it if I didn't have Mike," Stone says. "It gives him a chance to manage his own business."

A new bar is planned for the beer garden. Breakfast, if all goes well, will be served every day instead of just on weekends. Pro tip: Serve waffles with sausage links, call it the General Assembly Special and charge $29.99, with all-you-can-eat for lawmakers. "I'm betting on state employees coming back to work," Stone says. "I'm betting on the city of Springfield and the Capitol complex area reinventing itself."

WARD 1 ALD. TYPHOID REDPATH demanded that yours truly either sit in the back at this week's city council meeting or be thrown out. He said that I was getting too close by parking myself in the spectator section, where I always sit along with regular folks instead of in back in the section reserved for reporters, who everyone knows are detestable. "I want him removed unless he goes to the back," thundered the alderman. Noting that I had a mask on, Mayor Jim Langfelder said no. "But I don't have my mask on – I don't want to put it on because I'm 20 feet away from him," Redpath shot back. After a bit more blustering, the meeting proceeded.

It's officer discretion, police chief Kenny "Pick A Lane" Winslow, who issued a $50 mask ticket last month to a guy at a gas station, said when I asked in the hallway why Redpath wasn't getting a ticket. A few minutes later, the chief pulled Redpath into a side room. After the council meeting ended, Winslow said that the alderman is claiming a medical reason for not wearing a mask and is being given a chance to produce a note from his doctor stating that he has a condition that precludes covering his pie hole. Let's hope that note is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. I'd love to see it.

SANGAMON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE JOHN "MO" MADONIA, who's won praise from lawyers and fellow judges for leading the fight against coronavirus in the courthouse, has been sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19. He says that his symptoms have been mild. Madonia's mother, 72, is not so fortunate. She was hospitalized the day before Thanksgiving, a few days after the Madonia clan gathered on the 18th anniversary of her husband's death. "We didn't want my mom to be alone and depressed," the judge says. Madonia figures coronavirus, also, was at the family gathering. "I think that's our triggering event," said the judge, who expects to be back at work on Monday. Madonia, the court's presiding judge, said Tuesday that his mother is doing better, with the family making plans to transfer her from the hospital to a short-term care facility. Last spring, Madonia sent judges home and took over the docket himself, handling everything from traffic cases to felonies to keep as many people out of the courthouse as possible so coronavirus wouldn't spread.

STAYING ALIVE: Cross fingers, at least one fear from last spring has, so far, gone unrealized as we near nine months of pandemic living. Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon says there's no sign that suicides are increasing, although drug overdoses deemed accidental have risen. While the trend has been up elsewhere – DuPage County in September warned that suicides increased by 23% during the first six months of this year – researchers are reporting no increase in suicides in the U.S., although some worry that early patterns may not last. Augmenting mental health crisis teams assigned to the emergency room, Memorial Behavioral Health has started a mental health crisis clinic at 710 N. Eighth Street that its founders compare to a storefront clinic set up to take care of physical ailments – it's designed to deal with troubles that aren't emergencies. Drop-ins are welcome. It's open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, or call 525-1064.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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