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URBANA — A popular bar and restaurant in downtown Urbana is closing temporarily so it can survive the winter.

Without heated tents or igloos and the unseasonably warm weather soon coming to an end, Crane Alley management decided to temporarily close Dec. 14 until it is safe to reopen.

“Today and tomorrow are probably going to be fairly warm, so there’s a little bit of business out there, but it’s not enough to stay open through the winter,” general manager Matthew Barga said. “The best chance we have for employees to have a job to come back to is to stay closed temporarily and reopen when things start to turn around.”

Under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, Crane Alley has had to close its indoor seating, and Barga said it wasn’t feasible to add tents or igloos to its outdoor seating in the alley.

“We had thought about putting up a permanent structure in the alleyway, but it’s really difficult because that’s technically the city’s property,” he said.

And because the alley is narrow, Barga said a tent wouldn’t fit well.

He also said it wouldn’t have been feasible to shift to only doing delivery and curbside pickup.

“The amount that we’re getting through curbside and delivery — it’s picking up a little bit since we first started it, but not enough to keep the lights on,” Barga said.

Despite the pandemic, he’s hopeful Crane Alley will make it through the winter.

“I’m really optimistic. That’s really what the call was,” Barga said. “We could try to stay open and try to make it through and scrape by with what we have, or close temporarily and save that money.”

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