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Mort's temporarily closes due to COVID-19, other businesses face similar challenge

(KWCH)
Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 6:19 PM CDT
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Providing a long-term outlook and prioritizing safety for customers and staff, Mort's Co-owner Morrie Sheets decided to temporarily close the Old Town cigar bar.

While business has gone well since the bar was cleared to reopen a couple weeks ago following the state-mandated shutdown due to COVID-19, Sheets made the decision to voluntarily close temporarily as locally,

Sheets said he believes the reopening process has been moving too fast and while the business did take preventative measures, considering crowd sizes, he chose to close down temporarily to avoid any infection from happening.

Sheets said when the bar did reopen, owners had about 45 seats and 13 tables removed to limit crowding and had the staff wear face masks and put hand sanitizer on every table.

But with customers flocking to the business and no formal restrictions in place, the concern for customer and staff safety lingered. Sheets said most of his employees have tested for COVID-19 and to his knowledge, none of them have the virus.

But looking at the big picture, he indicated the temporary closure now will set the business up for greater success later. Sheets said Mort's is doing fine financially and said any economic risk is worth it to help keep his community safe.

Sheets did not say when Mort's may reopen. He said the bar has been open for 26 years and that he cares for his customers and staff.

Monday, Eyewitness News spoke with a pair of restaurant owners, also remaining cautious with plans to let customers back inside.

Nearly three months have passed since Doo-Dah Diner owner Patrick Shibley has been able to do what he loves most: "put out great food."

That much time also also passed since the last time he saw customers inside his restaurant.

Shibley said repairs kept the restaurant closed longer, but they still wanted to reopen slowly and safely. Next Tuesday (June 30), Doo-Dah Diner customers will be let back inside the restaurant.

"I'm really excited to be open, but at the same time, I'm reluctant," Shibley said.

For Shibley, the caution comes from not wanting to see employees or customers get sick. With renovations, the diner moved out several tables and once reopen, will have Plexiglas dividers between each table.

"You never know day to day what could happen, but if things keep spiking, then we will definitely go to doing only curbside or to-go," Shibley said.

While the Doo-Dah Diner plans to reopen with limited capacity next week, other restaurants, although allowed to reopen, have kept their dining rooms closed.

Meddy's owner Alex Harb has kept his dining rooms closed out of caution for his team and for the restaurant's customers.

"I thought the right decision was to play it safer rather than go all out with people reopening because then you put everyone at risk' Harb said.

Harb and Shibley said they both heard the news of Mort's temporarily closing and said they understand why. Shibley said while cautious, he knows customers are coming back next week.

"People are going to feel weird. It's our job, especially at Doo-Dah Diner to make them feel welcome," he said.

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