OMC Smokehouse Shuts Doors Temporarily After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

The restaurant says they will be identifying anyone who may have been in contact with the employee and encourage them to get tested.


DULUTH, Minn. — A popular restaurant in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Neighborhood, OMC Smokehouse is closing temporarily due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19 Sunday.

“We are just working on trying to understand this and trying to do it the right way,” said owner Tom Hanson.

In a post on their Facebook page Sunday, OMC Smokehouse said they will be identifying anyone who may have been in contact with the employee, who’s last shift was Thursday, and encourage them to get tested.

According to Hanson, the employee decided to get a Coronavirus test after their roommate also tested positive.

“She stayed home, and then we got a phone call this morning that she tested positive,” he said. “None of our kitchen people associated with the person that had it.”

The restaurant will now close for as long as two weeks to sanitize and deep clean, the owner said, while he talks next steps with the Minnesota Health Department.

“Now there is a new protocol that anybody that’s worked with the employee has to quarantine and we can’t have them back in the building for up to two weeks from the last time they associated,” said Hanson.

It was just last month when Hanson’s other restaurant, Duluth Grill, also closed temporarily when one of their employees tested positive. This comes after a positive case led to the voluntary closure of Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar in Canal Park.

After a difficult three-month closure back when the pandemic started, Hanson says that OMC has done well this summer — and that should set them up through the winter.

“We’re going into winter prepared to endure a long possibly dark winter,” he said. “By next year we should be back to full strength.”

80 racks of ribs and 12 briskets were ready Sunday for what was looking to be a busy end to the Labor Day weekend for the BBQ restaurant. That all went to Corktown Deli and Brews, also owned by Hanson. They will be serving barbecue there every day while OMC is closed until 6 p.m.

All day Sunday, Hanson stood outside OMC with other employees, explaining the situation to any customer who was about to enter the restaurant.

He said he rather be transparent since the pandemic effects everyone.

“Be part of how we can make this go away and not just try to keep it like our problem. It’s the whole community that we gotta figure this out,” said Hanson.

OMC Friends & Family,Effective immediately, we have made the decision to close until further notice due to an employee…

Posted by OMC Smokehouse on Sunday, September 6, 2020

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