Their lIfe's work: Rondout bar and grill owner, 84, rides out stay-at-home order

  • Rita Roewert, 84, has owned Rita's Bar and Grill in Rondout for 20 years. Business is down 80% since the establishment is limited to carryout, but she plans to persevere through the pandemic.

      Rita Roewert, 84, has owned Rita's Bar and Grill in Rondout for 20 years. Business is down 80% since the establishment is limited to carryout, but she plans to persevere through the pandemic. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/16/2020 6:51 AM

The 84-year old proprietor of a bar and grill frequented by an eclectic mix of construction workers, bikers and families with children is riding out the stay-at-home order as well as she can.

Business is down 80% at Rita's Bar and Grill in Rondout, a small Lake County community between Libertyville and Lake Bluff. Rita (Porras) Roewert, a lifelong resident of Libertyville, has owned it for 20 years.

 

Rita's is still open for pickup and carryout, and Roewert expects to make it through this period of uncertainty and hopes to be able to seat customers soon.

"I'm not a giver upper. I wouldn't have been able to raise seven kids by myself if I was," said Roewert, whose husband died when she was 32. Four of Roewert's seven adult children work at Rita's.

There still is a mortgage to pay, but she is working on a temporary solution with the bank.

Roewert has cut back to eight-hour days from her previous 12. But retirement is off the table.

"That to me is a word that doesn't exist because I don't know what I would do if I retired," she said. "I just never thought about it."

• Do you know of a suburban small business with a compelling story about working through the pandemic? Send photo director Jeff Knox a detailed email with LIFE'S WORK in the subject line at jknox@dailyherald.com.

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