The iconic Beacon Drive-In is closed until Wednesday so employees can get tested for COVID-19 as well as a thorough cleaning and maintenance, according to the website and the restaurant owner.
“We will ask our employees to provide us with a current COVID test,” read a post on The Beacon Drive-In’s website. “Infection rates are high in this region and we believe it is prudent to tackle this problem.”
The restaurant is located at 255 John B. White Sr. Blvd. in the city center.
Owner Steve Duncan said on Tuesday that what prompted the temporary closure was that one of the managers fell ill several days ago, tested positive for COVID and had to seek treatment in hospital. This manager “is improving,” he said.
âFor the sake of employees and our customers, common sense says to shut down for a few days and pay them during the downtime,â Duncan said.
The Beacon has followed state and federal COVID safety guidelines since the start of the pandemic, Duncan said.
He said the temperatures of the 40 employees are checked before they start work and they are sent home to self-quarantine if there are any signs of illness. They must either present proof of a negative COVID test or a vaccination before their return.
At work, employees wear face masks and practice social distancing as much as possible, he added.
Duncan said he urges people to get vaccinated, but does not demand it.
âGetting the vaccine is your personal choice,â Duncan said. âSee your doctor. We encourage you to do what is healthiest for you. “
Ken Church, a retired Beacon business partner who was helping clean the restaurant on Tuesday, said he was encouraged by the public’s response to the temporary closure.
âCustomers have said thank you for your courage and for safety above all else,â Church said.
Meanwhile, Duncan said he would not hesitate to close the restaurant again if necessary.
âThe last thing we want to do is sweep this under the rug and be part of the problem,â he said.
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The Beacon website post says the 350-seat restaurant has been closed since Sunday, September 26, but the restaurant will fulfill take-out and pick-up orders through its pickup services.
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The Beacon was founded in 1946 by John B White Sr. The restaurant has been featured on television on national food shows and has been a favorite haunt for politicians such as former President George W. Bush.
The restaurant was on the list of one of the best restaurants in the country because of its southern style iced tea. The Beacon is also known for its chili cheeseburgers stacked with onion rings and fried potatoes.
Contact Bob Montgomery at [email protected]