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Some restaurants ramp up take-out service while others close altogether

Both are in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus

ST. LOUIS — With dining rooms closed, St. Louis restaurant lovers are delivering on their promise to take out.

“We’re taking it day by day, kind of just doing it as we can, and so far we've seen great turnout,” said Alex Klingseisen, the assistant manager at Peacemaker Lobster and Crab Company in Benton Park.

They’re one of many area restaurants where employees were slammed Tuesday evening to fulfill orders for “The Great American Takeout”, a nationwide movement aimed at supporting local restaurants. Most major U.S. cities have taken some steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that hampers restaurant business.

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According to the CDC, "food-borne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission." That's because it's respiratory.

They do add that it is important to make sure food workers are at least 6 feet away from each other for their own safety. That’s why on Tuesday, Olive + Oak in Webster Groves closed completely, at least temporarily.

“Yeah, you know we did [takeout orders], and honestly it was from a financial standpoint it worked and it was successful for us,” said Mark Hinkle, one of the restaurant’s co-owners. “But unfortunately it led to more concern where we were looking around the restaurant and seeing we had 10, 15, 20 employees in the building. Just watching the news and what’s happening overseas and getting to know what COVID-19 is capable of, honestly, it just started to scare us.”

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Hinkle said he’s hopeful the federal stimulus plan and other government assistance will help his and other small businesses in the long run, in the interest of keeping people home for now.

“Every operation's different and everybody’s struggling with this decision on how do we save our businesses and how do we take care of our staff, and balancing that with the social responsibility of taking care of people from a health standpoint,” Hinkle said. “I’m not shaming or telling anybody else what they should be doing in their business, I just know for our business this was the right move.”

Others made the same move Tuesday: Blues City Deli and Annie Gunn’s both also opted to temporarily shut down. They followed Pint Size Bakery and Gerard Craft’s Niche family of restaurants, among others, that have closed to allow employees to also practice social distancing.

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“Luckily, we have the space to accommodate [that],” said Klingseisen of the Peacemaker kitchen. “Everything is very well spaced apart, we switch gloves between every order, between every interaction with guests. Every time we bring a curbside order out, we change our gloves.”

Still, Klingseisen knows the situation is changing rapidly — as must the restaurant industry’s response. It’s why she’s hoping the community continues coming to them, for now.

“If you feel safe going out, go support your local businesses while you can,” she said. “We're all in this together and our biggest goal is to just take care of the people, and we'll do that as long as we can.”

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