One Oregon restaurant is open again as of Tuesday, Aug. 18, and another has remained closed as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.
Mulligan’s Irish Pub and Grill, 830 Oregon Center Drive, and Ace’s Main Tap, 121 S. Main St. both temporarily closed as precautionary measures.
Mulligan’s announced with a Facebook post on Wednesday, Aug. 5 that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19. Ace’s posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday, Aug. 12 it will be closed until further notice for cleaning. The post said Ace’s closed after its sole cook expressed concerns about possible exposure, but later that employee tested negative.
The Mulligan’s post stated that while owners and brothers Brian and Steve Alt had no reason to believe the virus was either contracted or spread at the restaurant, they still closed in the best interests of safety.
Steve Alt told the Observer that an employee had told them he was showing symptoms of COVID-19. He said they immediately told him not to come in and alerted other staff members and that the employee later tested positive.
The employee was not allowed back in the building until he was symptom free for 10 days, in accordance with Public Health Madison and Dane County rules.
Alt said that while 24 to 48 hours of closure is all that’s recommended by the public health officials, he opted to close for five days for deep cleaning and disinfecting.
Mulligan’s reopened Monday, August 10. “We wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable,” Alt said.
He said he and Brian Alt have seen a positive response to their transparency. They wanted to be up front, not try to hide the fact an employee had tested positive.
He said everything has gone well since opening again. The restaurant is currently limited to 25% capacity dine-in, but it’s not even filling that reduced amount of seating.
The restaurant has also been closing earlier than it did pre-pandemic times, closing by 9 or 10 p.m. most days.
Steve said he had already found it hard finding help to fill shifts for the past three years, but it’s even more difficult now with so many people scared of the virus.
“We’re struggling, but we’re getting by,” he said. “We have seen a lot of support from the community.”
Ace’s Tap posted on its Facebook page Wednesday, Aug. 12 “The Tap will be closed until further notice. We are taking this time to clean, sanitize, and make some internal updates.”
The post did not specify at the time if the closure was COVID-19 related, but a post on Monday, Aug. 17 later revealed that was the case.
“We’ve had a few questions about our recent closure. We currently have one staff member in the bar cooking up all the amazing to go orders for you. This staff member had brief contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid. This staff member has since received a negative Covid test result,” the post read.
Several attempts by the Observer to reach the owners of Ace’s for additional comments were unreturned.
Even though the restaurant was already closed to dine-in and was offering carry-out only, it has now closed completely as a precaution.
As of Tuesday morning, Ace’s was still closed.
“We will open just as soon as we are ready and we feel that it is safe for our staff member and our customers. Continue to watch Facebook for more updates,” the post read. “As always, thank you for supporting us during these unsteady times! It means so much to us that we have the support of the Oregon Community!”