ANDERSONVILLE — Replay Andersonville will remain closed most of this week after a server at the restaurant/arcade bar tested positive for coronavirus.
Replay, 5358 N. Clark St., closed Sunday and announced on Facebook a member of its waitstaff had contracted COVID-19. The restaurant will remain closed until Friday, owner Mark Liberson said.
Replay is at least the third Chicago restaurant to temporarily close following a staff member’s exposure to coronavirus. Logan Square’s Longman & Eagle shut down about 10 days after reopening its patio service. Fork in Lincoln Square shut down after a worker was “exposed” to the virus.
Liberson said Replay took multiple precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The waiter did not have COVID-19 symptoms and only got tested due to an unrelated medical procedure, Liberson said.
Liberson said closing down also will allow employees time to decompress and to be tested through an agreement with Howard Brown Health, he said.
“Reopening as a business has been extremely stressful,” said Liberson, president of LKH Management, which operates multiple establishments in Andersonville and Boystown. “We are working extremely hard to have a safe environment. We all looked at each other yesterday and said, ‘We’re exhausted. Let’s give ourselves some time off.'”
Liberson said Replay has been operating under the assumption anyone can be a carrier of coronavirus and has structured their operations with that in mind. The positive test shows coronavirus infections can still happen despite best efforts to maintain a safe and socially distant environment, Liberson said.
“We should all expect it at some point, that someone tests positive,” Liberson said of business owners. “By being intelligent about it, we can live with the virus.”
Per city rules, Liberson conducted contact tracing with his employees following notification of the positive test. The infected employee maintained distance from other workers and diligently used personal protective equipment and adhered to other best practices, he said.
The testing program with Howard Brown was established before the positive case as a way for the restaurant and its employees to operate with as much information as possible, Liberson said.
Replay teamed with neighboring restaurants Hamburger Mary’s and Vincent to open a shared street dining space on Balmoral Avenue in late June.
The expanded outdoor dining gives the restaurants more space for social distancing, which has been welcomed by customers, Liberson said.
In preparation for the service, Vincent rolled out a new contactless dining service. The restaurants have shared best practices for safely operating the outdoor dining space, Liberson said.
Every morning before Replay opens, staffers sanitize all surfaces and then remeasure tables to ensure they are more than six feet apart, Liberson said. High-contact surface areas are re-sanitized every 30 minutes, and staffers wash their hands after touching any high-contact surface. Tables are completely sanitized between uses and a touchless menu system has been installed, the business owner said.
Such protocols will help ensure businesses can operate a safe environment and remain open through the pandemic, Liberson said. Without government assistance for the hospitality industry, staying closed does not look like a feasible option for many establishments, he said.
“I don’t know if that’s a real possibility for this world, if we want to see the Andersonville we currently have in the future,” Liberson said. “By following protocol, you can prevent the spread.”
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