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Restaurants, bars, breweries continue to navigate amid coronavirus

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- At Enlightened Brewing Company, the tables were empty Monday after the owners decided to temporarily close, even though there wasn't a positive COVID case reported. 

"With a number of local restaurants, bars, establishments, reporting positive cases from their staff, or friend of a friend, just thought it was a smart move to pump the brakes," said Tommy Vandervort, founder and co-owner. 

The owners asked employees to get tested. 

"We’re happy to say that all of our staff tested negative this week so we’re doing something right," said James Larson, brewmaster and co-owner. 

Larson and Vandervort said they are just working one day at a time. 

"We’re scientists of beer, but we’re not actual scientists and so we have to gather that information from different sources and use that to try to figure out best practices," said Vandervort. 

They'll reopen Wednesday at 25 percent capacity and are asking customers to wear masks when not at their table, sit at designated "clean" tables and designate one person in the group to order and pay. 

"Very quickly realized our future would require us to first reorganize business, redo our business modeling, and then sort of rethink how we're going to operate, reinvent ourselves, and then prepare to open," said Paul Bartolotta, chef, owner, and co-founder of The Bartolotta Restaurants. 

Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993 opened in Wauwatosa on July 8. 

"We've gone very deep into this to create what we think is a very good program, but we consider it a living, breathing series of protocols we want to continue to look at at ways to improve it," said Bartolotta. 

The restaurant group created a 34 page COVID plan that includes policies and procedures. Employees are undergo temperature checks and screenings and wear protective equipment, like masks and gloves. The gloves are different colors, with employees picking up dirty dishes wearing one color and employees touching clean items with another. 

Guests also undergo temperature screenings, must wear masks when walking in the restaurant and common areas and when speaking to employee, like ordering.

"If the server's gonna come to the table to drop wine or deliver food they pause until everyone has their masks up, cause we have an internal language, 'Mask up, waiter shows up, mask down, no server around,'" said Bartolotta. 

As part of any contact tracing, they ask for a phone number from at least one guest. So far they haven't had any positive cases. 

"We’ve had none but I would also say I don’t think anyone's immune from it," he said. 

But, Bartolotta says they are doing what they can to keep customers and employees safe. 

"The system isn’t going to be perfect, there are going to be bumps, but we are taking it really, really seriously and we are giving it our all."


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