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Pizza Joints, Coffee Shops Close as Chicago Braces for Cold

A pedestrians crosses the Dearborn Street Bridge during a snow storm in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg

How cold is Chicago this week? Almost too cold to get a pizza delivered.

Mike Boren, a 28-year-old driver for Dante’s Pizzeria, wore three pairs of socks on Tuesday and still struggled to say warm. The three-store chain said it will close Wednesday in response to extreme cold sweeping the region.

“It’s not pleasant,” he said. “There’s a lot of stomping in the snow.”

Bitter cold is expected across the upper Midwest to the Northeast, prompting warnings to stay indoors. In Chicago, temperatures are forecast to undercut those in the Arctic Circle on Wednesday night. At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, it’s supposed to reach minus-22 Fahrenheit (minus-30 Celsius) Wednesday and go even lower Thursday.

That’s leading restaurants to give employees the day off. La Colombe Coffee Roasters is closing its five Chicago cafes. “While we pride ourselves on being there for our community, this circumstance is too severe and we need to consider the safety of our people behind the bar. We hope you understand,” the company said in an email.

Closing Early

Chiya Chai Cafe in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood also will be closed, and has a sign on the door saying it wants to ensure everyone’s safety during the “inclement weather conditions.” Wendy’s Co. says “many” of its Chicago-region locations are closing early Tuesday evening.

“Our first priority is employee safety, and we will continue to monitor the situation and will make decisions on individual company and franchisee restaurant closures throughout the next 48 hours,” spokeswoman Heidi Schauer said in an email.

Delivery-oriented businesses that do stay open could get a lift. Bad weather typically drives sales, Papa John’s International Inc. said in an emailed statement.

At Dante’s on Tuesday afternoon, deliveries were running three or four times normal. But the company was poised to shut down a little early depending on the temperature and conditions. For Boren, who was scheduled to work until 11 p.m., the frigid weather wasn’t so concerning.

“I’d like to make money, so I don’t mind going late,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of layers on.” DM

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