Guinness Gives Chicago a Sign of Spring With St. Patrick’s Day Reservations

A brewery taproom with an enormous harp sculpture.
Guinness is ready for St. Patrick’s Day. | Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Plus, will the cell phone outage cause chaos for restaurants?

“Is your patio open?”

Customers have repeatedly uttered those four words this week to restaurants and bar workers all across Chicago, a city that is rejoicing after hitting the 50-degree threshold for the first time in 2024.

There’s hope, no matter what those groundhogs have revealed, of flipping the page to spring. But nothing is easy, as Thursday morning much of the country was greeted by a cell phone outage that mostly impacted AT&T customers. Overall, more than 100,000 phones have reportedly been hit.

How that outage will affect online ordering and reservations remains to be seen. AT&T has recommended that customers use WiFi calling if users want to be old fashioned, you know, the antiquated process that eliminates service fees for restaurants — unlike online ordering using a third party (DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub).

Despite the latest hurdle, there are reasons to be optimistic for the restaurant industry in Chicago. On Wednesday, the city’s tourism arm, Choose Chicago, claimed Restaurant Week as a success, sending out a release that trumped the event gaining popularity with 463 restaurants. The website drew 1.34 million page views, a 7.2 percent increase compared to 2023, and 430,000 website clicks — 32 percent more than in 2023. The 17-day “week” went from January 19 to February. It’s a promotion where participating restaurants offer set meals to bring diners in during the typically slower winter weeks.

The spring feeling is in full force as Guinness is prepping for its first St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, with reservations for its Fulton Market brewpub live. The Chicago taproom, which opened in September, is touting five days of St. Patrick’s Day events, from Wednesday, March 13 to St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17. Customers can book a table for four, eight, or 12 or opt for general admission. The reservations come in three-hour blocks.

The city has come a long way since St. Patrick’s Day 2020 when bar owners packed revelers into their establishments right before Gov. J.B. Pritzker shut down on-premises dining to help slow the spread of COVID.

Regardless of optimism, true Chicagoans know it’s way too early to put away their shovels or heavy winter coats.