Aurora restaurants abruptly shift from sit-down to pickup

By Jack McCarthy Chronicle Media

Aurora’s Spartan House restaurant and bar on Prairie Street is closed to sit-down dining, but advertises pickup service on its exterior sign. Spartan House and hundreds of other Illinois restaurants and bars were closed last week to help slow the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

Spartan House is a casual sit-down restaurant near the Aurora University campus serving food and drink to hungry lunch and dinner customers.

But with restaurants and bars closed in the wake of threats posed by the coronavirus outbreak, the Prairie Street establishment’s business model is now is strictly food to-go.

“We’re a dine-in establishment. We do some carryout but that’s not the majority of our business,” said owner Ron Woerman at a March 16 media gathering at Aurora City Hall as local restaurant owners prepared to shut down. “We’re going to pivot and offer family style dinners … whatever it takes to keep our business open and keep our employees (working).”

Illinois bars and restaurants were ordered closed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker through at least March 30 to slow the spread of coronavirus. Only food pick-up orders — and no alcohol — are permitted.

Costs of the shutdown and potential losses are unknown but limited food sales could alleviate at least some of the pain.

“It’s very sad that we’re closing restaurants right now,” said Roberto Avila, owner of the new Altiro Latin Fusion in downtown Aurora. “(But) we’re open for carryout and delivery and curbside pickup.”

California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington were among states with similar closures in place last week. Other states appear likely to follow.

“This is a very trying time for us and a shock to everyone’s system,” Woerman said. “I can’t put this lightly, our employees are stressed, they’re burdened, they’re afraid of what’s going to happen. But they know steps taken are to ensure the safety of the entire community and ultimately themselves.”

The family owned Spartan House, 1032 Prairie St., features an easy-going, sports bar atmosphere with numerous TVs playing nonstop pro and college games. Four years ago it  joined the Poulakidas family’s Aurora fixture — O’Malley’s Pub & Eatery — located on Aurora’s East Side and open since 1974.

Spartan House owner Ron Woerman (right) talks about the effects of state orders to close restaurants and bars to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Altiro Latin Fusion owner Roberto Avila is in center while Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin (left) listens. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

Spartan House’s previously limited to-go orders were either picked up by customers or handled by delivery services like Grub Hub. The dinner menu ranged from salads, burgers and pizza to chicken and steaks. They also offered combo lunch specials for $10.

Altiro Latin Fusion is a chain of five west suburban restaurants and opened its Aurora location at 1 S. Stolp earlier this year. The Latin cuisine features classic dishes with infused new flavors from Spain, Mexico, and South America.

Spartan House carryout/pickup service is available from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Call 630-340-4546 for more information. According to its website, Altrio Latin Fusion will be open daily from noon-8 p.m. For more information on curbside pickup and delivery call 630-386-6400.

The City of Aurora is compiling a list of local restaurants open for delivery or takeout. Visit for more information.