Sam Toia of the Illinois Restaurant Association is a Chicago guy who gets Chicago things done. Is he pushing too hard on reopening?

May 25, 2020 447


Sam Toia, based on appearances alone, looks more Lex Luthor than Superman. The guy is bald, bald, bald, rarely the tallest one in the room, though also baldly persistent, and full of charisma, able to leap tall bureaucracies in a relatively short period of time. But not without stumbles, of course.

Toia is president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, and this week, after weeks of arguing that Gov. J.B. Pritzker was mishandling restaurant reopening, dooming the state’s largest private-sector employer, Toia stood at a lectern beside his old friend and glumly pointed to “a glimmer of light.”

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