Businesses in the Greater Lafayette area are reacting to employee COVID-19 cases and making plans to modify their service ahead of Thanksgiving break, as Indiana and Tippecanoe County experience a spike in COVID-19 cases.
After an employee at AJ’s Burgers and Beef reported being in contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19, the restaurant “decided (to) close our store and ask all employees to go get tested before we reopen,” AJ’s owner Adam Warso said.
“It was a very hard decision because a lot of our employees do not have health insurance and we knew it would be hard for them to get tested quickly,” he said. “We have had at least one employee come back positive, so we know we made the right decision to keep our staff and customers healthy.”
Warso said AJ’s is using this time to clean the restaurant and tailor its kitchen for takeout rather than dine-in service.
A similar fate befell the HotBox Pizza in Chauncey Hill Mall when one of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a sign posted on the restaurant’s door.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking our employees to quarantine for 2 weeks,” the sign reads.
The franchise’s other two locations, one on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette and the other on Veterans Memorial Parkway in Lafayette, will remain open.
Professor Joe’s, a Lafayette pizzeria and pub, also announced its permanent closure via Facebook on Thursday.
“We want to thank all the customers and staff who have helped make Professor Joe’s a special part of Downtown Lafayette over the last 6+ years,” the owners wrote. “Unfortunately, ongoing economic and health uncertainties make it impossible for us to continue operations.”
The restaurant closed its doors on Saturday.
Several other restaurants are making plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We are taking up-to-date regulations and guidelines from the Tippecanoe County Health Department and Protect Purdue concerning COVID-19 seriously in our shop to keep our staff, customers and the community safe,” said Alison Wisthuff, managing director for Greyhouse Coffee and Supply Co.
Restaurants in Tippecanoe County are currently limited to 75% operating capacity, but according to Wisthuff, Greyhouse will further limit dining-room space for parts of break and will close earlier in the evening. Wisthuff “hopes to still provide excellent coffee and a place to be for students who are unable to travel home.”
As the public health situation remains fluid, Wisthuff said Greyhouse is prepared to alter its operations to conform to the health department’s guidance.
“We do not plan on closing down after Thanksgiving,” Wisthuff said, “but we are preparing for the possibility of dining rooms being closed again like they were earlier this year.”