Water Street Kitchen & Bar owner Ed Colburn said Friday, the restaurant is putting safety first as it reopens, starting Saturday with takeout only, a week after an employee reported they and a family member tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee worked one day last week, Wednesday, Oct. 14, Colburn said.
The restaurant at 15 Water St., Wiscasset, closed since Saturday, Oct. 17, has been working with Maine Center for Disease Control and has been cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, from windows and door handles to bathrooms and tables and chairs; the plates and silverware were being rewashed, Colburn added in a first interview on Wednesday, Oct. 21. All staff, including him, were getting tested, he said.
“We always planned for the worst and hoped that it wouldn’t happen to us. But (the pandemic) is obviously a very real, big thing. We’re very proud of how we have done with the mask-wearing ... (Staff) all wear masks all day every day, we all do. Sanitation-wise we’re very, very on point, and very serious about the whole thing. So it’s pretty shocking to us that this is happening, but it is a harsh reality of the world we’re in right now.”
In a text response updating Wiscasset Newspaper Friday morning, Colburn said, “All employees have been tested and we are still awaiting some results. It goes without saying that all employees will have to have tested negative before they reenter the premises. Our plan is to revert back to take out only starting Saturday (Oct. 24). We are still taking things day by day and being as cautious as possible.
“We have been thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the past few days,” Colburn continued. “Safety is our number one concern for our staff and our community here. We may reopen for dine in a week from today (Oct. 30), which would have given us two weeks from the original incident, although no final decision has been made as of yet.”
Colburn noted in the Oct. 21 interview, the CDC did not make the business close. “We chose to,” as a precaution, he said.
He believed both the employee and their family member were doing fine, and had “very little symptoms,” he said.
The pandemic and the past week of closure have both shown the community support the business has, Colburn said. “We’ve been able to handle every obstacle thrown at us so far through the pandemic. In the very beginning, it obviously started out being pretty slow, throughout the summer we gained a lot of trust from the community. We’ve been very serious about the mask wearing and the washing of hands and all the proper protocols .... the tables have all been spaced out, so we’ve kind of been thriving throughout this whole thing so this is just one of those unfortunate speed bumps ...”
Patrons have been thanking the restaurant for its transparency and the decision to close as a precaution, Colburn said. Selectman and patron Katharine Martin-Savage wrote on Facebook, “You made the right decision. Better safe than sorry. See you all soon.”
In a phone interview Friday, Martin-Savage said she looks forward to returning to the restaurant. “They are doing what they feel is necessary ... I appreciate their efforts.”