JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Additional bars and restaurants in Jacksonville Beach announced Tuesday they were closing after several new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the area.
Dozens of people say they’ve tested positive for the virus after visiting beach establishments over the past week and a half. Employees of some restaurants in the area have also tested positive for COVID-19.
On San Pablo, Catullo’s Italian announced that on Tuesday an employee tested positive for the virus. It said the remainder of its staff will be tested and that the restaurant was getting sanitized.
On Beach Boulevard, Ed Malin, the owner of Angie’s Subs, shut down his iconic eatery Tuesday for a deep clean. He said he is trying to do the right thing to keep the coronavirus from spreading after he learned a cashier tested positive for the virus Tuesday morning.
“She was proactive about it,” Malin said. “I was very proud of her for a young lady. She went and got tested, came back positive, texted me this morning at 7:20. At about 7:28, I was on a text with all the managers saying, ‘This is going to be a protocol and what we’re going to do.’”
Malin said he was worried it would happen.
“I have been thinking about it constantly,” he said. “Everybody in my industry’s been thinking about it every day, all throughout the day.”
Angie’s Subs employees are being tested for the virus. The sister restaurant, Angie’s Grom, will be cleaned after business hours Tuesday night out of an abundance of caution.
Lynch’s Irish Pub on 1st Street was first to close down after more than a dozen customers claimed they got sick. Seven employees there tested positive, while 42 were negative. After a deep clean, the pub reopened at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
"The cost is quite exorbitant, however, you can’t really put a price on people’s health,” said general manager Keith Doherty.
The Wreck Tiki Lounge and the Tavern closed Sunday and were cleaned Tuesday. General manager Fernando Meza said at least one employee has the virus.
“With everything being back open and people having social gatherings, eventually, it’s going to spread a little bit more,” Meza said.
A crew with Ameripro Environmental Services suited up and disinfected the two connected bars Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re getting the major touch points. Light switches, door knobs, beer taps, anything that people are going to be touching,” said Chris Cooper with Ameripro. “Then we come through with a fogger, and the fogger is going to get everything we missed."
Mellow Mushroom has been closed for two days for cleaning. In a Facebook post, the restaurant staff wrote:
“In light of what has occurred over the last several days, we have chosen to shut our doors, professionally sanitize our building, and ask all our employees to get tested with results in hand prior to returning to work. Thank you for your patience as your safety is our number one priority.”
Graffiti Burger Bar closed Monday then reopened Tuesday after sanitizing. Managers did not return a call or message for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Wine Bar, The Ritz and Brix were also sanitized, according to their social media pages.
Because of the concerns, TacoLu has gone back to to-go orders only, though owner Don Nichol said none of his staff members have tested positive to date.
“They are getting tested and not coming back to work until results come back,” Nichol told News4Jax.
Jacksonville Beach City Council members discussed the situation at their scheduled meeting Monday night.
“I’m really delighted that some of the other business owners are being extremely proactive, meaning they’re actually putting people before profit,” said Lynch’s manager Doherty, also a city councilman.
Councilman Cory Nichols said concerned says he’s concerned about an art festival planned over the weekend.
“I know there’s one coming next Saturday,” he told fellow leaders. “And if all of our businesses are shutting down because of it, I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to have a city-sponsored activity.”
Many staff members at the affected businesses said they were met with long lines at rapid testing centers and are still waiting on results.
Owners and managers said they’re concerned about the financial impact, but they’re being transparent and safe. They hope people respect and appreciate them for that and continue to patronize their businesses.