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Phoenix-area restaurants are closing, again, citing COVID-19 exposures

SanTan's Phoenix brewpub to officially open Mon.
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 18:12:04-04

PHOENIX — Almost a month since Arizona's stay-at-home order was lifted, more than a handful of restaurants, at least one brewpub, and a comic shop in the Phoenix area have reported potential COVID-19 exposures.

As a result, some businesses have temporarily closed, again, sometimes for a few days, one for two weeks, and others until they feel it is safe to reopen again. Others have undergone deep cleanings, according to posts on their Facebook pages.

In the last seven days alone, Chelsea's Kitchen in Phoenix, The Porch in Phoenix, Hash Kitchen in Phoenix, SanTan Brewing in downtown Chandler and Phoenix, Spirit House in downtown Chandler, Floridino's Pizza & Pasta in Chandler, The Shop Beer Co. in Tempe, and PHX Beer Co. in Scottsdale have all announced temporary closures, citing individuals or employees who have reportedly tested positive for the virus.

Prior to those, Venezia's Pizzeria in Gilbert, Oregano's in Queen Creek, Helton Brewing in Phoenix, Alo Cafe in Scottsdale, La Rista New Mexican Kitchen in Gilbert, and Drawn To Comics in Glendale have also publicly posted about potential positive cases.

Some restaurants have closed and since reopened. Others did not indicate they had closed or not, aside from alerting their followers to the potential exposure. Others remain closed.

After this story published Saturday, Zipps Sports Grill announced on Sunday that at least one employee at its Arcadia location tested positive for COVID-19. The restaurant said it would close that location's dining room, but would remain open for to-go orders.

Recently, the state has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. As of Saturday, June 13, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,540 new positive cases and 39 new deaths, bringing the state's totals to 34,458 positive cases and 1,183 confirmed deaths.

Related: Governor Ducey says Arizona is prepared as coronavirus cases continue to rise

More than 450,000 tests have been conducted, according to AZDHS' online data dashboard.

"TO OUR GUESTS: Chelsea’s Kitchen has recently learned that a person close to the restaurant has tested positive for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed the restaurant for dine in service. We are currently offering curbside takeout and delivery while the dining room is closed," said a Saturday post on the restaurant's Facebook page.

In another Facebook post, The Porch said last week that "ownership and management learned that an individual who was in The Porch has tested positive for COVID 19. We understand that this news may cause you concern."

"Given the recent exposure concerns, we have decided to temporarily close in order to allow all of our team members to get tested. We will reopen when we have all test results from our team, and have ensured that it is safe for our staff and customers to return," read the post.

In the meantime, the restaurant said it would clean and sanitize the entire building and complete some planned construction projects.

Hash Kitchen said last week that it was informed that an "individual with close contact to the restaurant" had tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, the restaurant decided to close that location.

"Due to the responsibility we feel for the community, Hash Kitchen Arcadia has made the proactive decision to temporarily close and has contracted a disinfection service to completely disinfect the restaurant, on top of its already strict sanitization procedures," said a Facebook post. "Hash Kitchen will remain closed until all employees test for COVID-19 and we feel that it is safe to reopen our doors."

SanTan Brewing temporarily closed its brewpubs in Chandler and Phoenix, as well as its Spirit House cocktail bar, after two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, the brewery said in a social media post.

"While we're closed, all areas of our restaurants will be thoroughly sanitized. Our doors will re-open once we have ensured that it is safe to serve you again. We anticipate to open again on Sunday morning." SanTan reopened for brunch on Sunday, June 14, according to an update on Facebook.

Floridino's in Chandler said in a Thursday Facebook post that one of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19, adding that the employee had not worked at the restaurant since the Friday before and "had no direct contact with customers and is now quarantining at home."

"In an abundance of caution, we will not be reopening at this time," the post said.

The Shop Beer Co. in Tempe said one of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19, but did not know if the exposure happened at the business or elsewhere. No other employees were showing symptoms of COVID-19, the business said on Facebook.

"However, as a precautionary measure for the safety of our team, we are going to close our tasting room to allow our team members to get tested and quarantine," the business said.

In a Facebook on Saturday, PHX Beer Co. said it would close its Scottsdale restaurant for a few days after someone who visited there the weekend before reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

"PHX Beer Co. is committed to protecting our staff and guests. It is for this reason that we are closing, this location only, today and tomorrow to do a thorough deep clean and sanitization. Every PHX Beer Co. restaurant employee is also being tested for COVID-19 and we will continue our rigorous daily sanitization when we reopen on Tuesday, June 16," a post on Facebook said.

On Sunday, Zipps Sports Grill said in a series of Facebook posts that an employee at its restaurant in Arcadia had tested positive for COVID-19.

"It finally happened, Zipps had our first positive Covid result from employees at our Zipps Arcadia," a Sunday post said, which has since been updated. "We feel lucky to have avoided this for as long as we have. Apparently this is a bit of a hot zone."

In an email, Josh Fletcher, director of operators for Zipps, said "...upon learning of the positive test result we have taken all of the proper precautions by removing our entire staff who were potentially exposed and we are fortunate to have an abundance of hard-working individuals ​who have been able to cover the shifts while our ​potentially exposed employees await for their “not so rapid” testing to return."

The restaurant closed the dining room at that location. It remains open for takeout.

On Monday, Aioli Burger announced in a Facebook post that while it has not had any positive COVID-19 cases within its restaurant, it would close its dining room as a precaution. It remains open for takeout orders. The patio all remains open.

During a press conference on Thursday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey encouraged people to wear masks in public, especially when unable to safely distance from other people.

Related: Despite virus surge in Arizona. Gov. Ducey won't require masks

He said the state's positive COVID-19 cases were trending in the wrong direction, but repeatedly said that the state has enough hospital capacity and equipment should more people get sick. He did not announce any new policy changes.

"I think it’s important that people have the facts. This virus is not going away. There is not a cure for this virus and there is not a vaccine for this virus," Ducey said during the Thursday press conference. "So this virus is something we need to learn to live with. And we need to make sure that we are protecting the most vulnerable in our society, and those are folks at a certain age bracket with underlying health conditions and at-risk conditions, and we’re going to continue to do that every single day until there is a vaccine."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information from Zipps and Aioli Burger.