Grocery stores and Thanksgiving Dinner shopping during Covid-19 Second Wave in Chicago, IL


With Thanksgiving less than a week away, retailers are trying to keep up with demand while providing safe environments for customers under the new restrictions.

Some grocery stores can only operate at 50%. Big box stores like Target or Costco can only operate at 25%.

"Every day, we're changing things to keep up with what we need to do to be safe here," said Paulina Market owner Bill Begale.

Under the new restrictions, Begale has to limit the number of customers inside his small grocery store to 20. He put tents outside to cover long Thanksgiving order lines.

Begale installed a walk-up window to keep people outside and hired a security guard for crowd control. He also installed a UV lighting system inside the store to kill viruses, like the coronavirus.

At the same time, Begale said his customers are ordering more Thanksgiving dinners than ever this year. Paulina Market has had to stop taking orders until Nov. 28.

“We have more orders because now everybody is buying a turkey instead of going to one house,” said Begale. “People are making a smaller dinner and they’re keeping it just within their family.”

Deep fried turkeys, whole pumpkin pies and other Thanksgiving dinner extravagances are being downsized this year as people gather with much smaller groups to celebrate amid surging COVID-19 infections.

Rod Thomas's hobby and specialty is deep friend turkeys, which he usually makes for family and close friends. This year, he's finding everyone wants smaller.


"Lots of folks asking for 10 to 12 pounders, because of COVID they are having small gatherings," he said

Wishbone restaurant in the West Loop is also busy cooking turkey. For the first time, its Thanksgiving to-go menu includes individual plates.

"Even the pies are more by the slice rather than buying a whole pumpkin pie or a whole sweet potato pie," said Joel Nickson of Wishbone.

Paramount Events has pivoted from catering large events to small orders, like its Thanksgiving menu, with Paramount Fresh.

To make it easy for people to have leftovers for the next day, but for ease of production," said Devon. Quinn of Paramount Events and Paramount Fresh.

Among Rick Drogosz used Paramount for his daughter's wedding and is now using them for Thanksgiving dinner, which he lamented will be a much smaller family gathering next week.

"It's going to be different," he said. "Very disappointing, but on the flip side it will be very easy, too."

Even though the orders are smaller, they are helping the restaurants and caterers that have been struggling for business.