Andytown Coffee Roasters, the San Francisco mini-chain of coffee shops in the Outer Sunset and SoMa known for house-roasted coffee, Irish scones, and a bubbly espresso drink called the Snowy Plover, has temporarily closed all its locations after a former employee tested positive for COVID-19. It’s just the latest SF restaurant to go dark over possible coronavirus exposure, following Mission District pizza destination Square Pie Guys, delivery-only chicken sandwich spot Hechy’s Hots, and SoMa sandwich shop Deli Board.
In a post to Instagram published Sunday evening, Andytown said they learned that evening that a former employee, whose last day on the job was July 18, tested positive for COVID-19 on July 22, “after [the worker] had already moved to another city.” As a result, the company immediately ordered the closure of all three of their currently open coffee shops, and suspended production activities until all its staff members can be tested for the virus.
The worker “passed a temperature check and had no symptoms on the days they were working,” the company says, and “no other employees have shown symptoms since the possible exposure.” Nonetheless, as “in the past eight days since exposure, our staff have crossed paths with each other, and we think the safest thing to do is to shut down everything until we can either get tested or are past the CDC-recommended 14 days from last exposure.”
Speaking with Eater SF, Andytown co-owner Lauren Crabbe says the decision to temporarily close their Lawton and Taraval Street coffee shops as well as the Taraval Street roastery is “based on CDC guidelines, and for the safety of our staff and community.” That means “if none of the employees who had direct contact with the positive employee develop symptoms” within 14 days of July 18, all the spots could reopen as soon as August 2. (The 181 Fremont Street location, inside the new Salesforce Transit Center, which went dark at the beginning of the pandemic, will remain shuttered until offices in downtown San Francisco start opening, Crabbe says.)
That timeline could move up, however, if every Andytown worker can get tested before then, something that Crabbe is hopeful but realistic about. “Tests are scarce,” she acknowledged, “and results are taking longer than they used to.”
“In this crisis, business owners have to prioritize safety over income,” Crabbe tells Eater SF. “No matter how big or small your business is, no amount of money is worth risking lives. If a few days of closure means that we can be assured that our team and customers are safe, then that’s a very small price to pay.”
Crabbe’s sentiments are echoed by Square Pie Guys’ Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter, who told the SF Chronicle Friday their Detroit-style pizza spot had temporarily closed after a coronavirus exposure. In the Square Pie case, it’s unclear if a worker was infected — in an Instagram post, the spot just said “our restaurant has been exposed to COVID,” and it and Hechy’s Hots, the chicken pop-up that operates out of Square Pie’s kitchen, would close “until further notice.” They, too, are having their workers tested, saying “Our top priority remains to provide a safe and empathetic workplace, and in this new normal, we must act swiftly.”
Meanwhile, SoMa sandwich shop Deli Board, which closed last Monday after a worker “appeared visibly ill when he came in for a short shift last Thursday night, was tested on Friday, and received his positive test result on Sunday,” is on track to reopen this week. “I’m happy to report I’m COVID free,” owner Adam Mesnick said via Instagram, and “we look forward to a healthy restart on July 30th.”