Patio Dining

The Porch Kitchen & Cantina closed Friday morning after a kitchen employee reported a positive COVID-19 test.

The Porch Kitchen and Cantina in Winston-Salem has closed after reporting that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. The closure also affects The Porch’s sister restaurant Alma Mexicana.

The employee, who worked in the kitchen, had last worked Wednesday but had not exhibited any symptoms at work, said owner Claire Calvin. After waking Thursday night with symptoms, the employee went to the emergency room and tested positive for COVID-19. Calvin learned of the test results Friday morning and immediately closed the restaurant.

“We are devastated and concerned for the employee and their family,” Calvin said in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Friday morning. “We are also concerned for our staff as a whole, and out of an abundance of caution and the desire to protect the staff, their families and the community at large, we are going to close our doors and ask our staff to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms.”

Calvin said in an interview that she also closed Alma Mexicana because some of those employees had recently been on The Porch premises.

The Porch was one of several restaurants that chose not to open its dining room even after Gov. Roy Cooper announced the Phase Two easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which began May 22.

The Porch had continued to do takeout as well as its Dinners on the Porch take-and-bake meals. It also had begun allowing customers to eat takeout on its patio as well as get drinks served outside.

Calvin said she had been conducting regular COVID-19 screenings of employees. Other safety measures at the Porch have included mandatory masking, extensive sanitizing, asking customers to wear gloves and masks upon entering the building and keeping employee teams separated from one another.

She said the closure affects more than 20 employees, who will be paid during self-quarantine. “I’m grateful the employee got tested quickly. And I’m grateful we have the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) money to pay people,” she said.

The federal PPP has offered loans to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Calvin said she will not decide on a date for reopening until later.

She pointed out that she is going beyond the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control or Forsyth County Health Department. “There are just so many unknowns. We have a very small restaurant family. My 17-year-old son works here. I know other restaurants are going to struggle with this, but closing just seemed like the best decision for us.”

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