Ceres Hit Hard By Restaurant Ban

Thom Thompson

Thom Thompson


The popular restaurant in the Chicago Board of Trade’s Jackson Street Lobby closed Monday afternoon in response to the Illinois governor’s restrictions on restaurants and bars serving the public. The restaurant plans to be closed for at least two weeks,  Ceres manager Billy Assimos said that business had already fallen by about 95% on Monday. 

The picture above was taken at around 2:00 on Monday afternoon. While there were about a dozen customers inside Ceres – not all of them at the bar – the building lobby was empty of office occupants and visitors. 

Cellars Market Food Court in the basement level of the same building also had a quiet day. A cashier there said they were closing Monday at the usual time, 2:30. She said the facility would be closed for two weeks, “But who knows . . .” 

Ceres is a popular lunch spot and attracts traders later in the afternoon, especially once pit trading has closed for the day. The novel coronavirus forced the CME and Cboe last week to announce that they were closing their trading floors temporarily, starting Monday. Although the trading pits were closed, all of the contracts traded in the pits were still available for electronic trading. Predominantly options on futures are traded in the CME pits. 

On Thursday afternoon last week, after the temporary closure of the CME pits was announced, traders and trading assistants who gathered at Ceres told me that they were concerned about the pits ever being opened again. More than one trader said they thought that, once customers and firms got used to not having the pits open and had adapted their trading to Globex-only, it wasn’t likely that the pits would open again. They also thought that the longer the ban on pit trading went on, the less it was likely that open outcry trading would resume. 

In addition to the closing of the two exchanges’ trading pits cutting the number of traders in the building on Monday, numerous other financial services, advertising, legal and other firms have instituted work-from-home plans for their employees. Loop streets were far quieter than usual. The other food services in the building, Mezza Mediterranean Grill and Big Shoulders coffee shop, were closed by 1:30 Monday. Big Shoulders posted that they would be closed Tuesday and hours for Wednesday through Friday were to be determined.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!     

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