No employees have tested positive for COVID, but brewery management halted dine-in service in order to 'protect their staff and the community against any potential risks as cases climb each day'

In early April, Alive spoke with Wolf's Ridge Brewing co-owner Bob Szuter about the challenges of operating a restaurant and brewery amid the growing coronavirus crisis. Szuter described a constant battle to stay financially viable during stay-at-home orders while trying to mitigate transmission risks for employees and the public.

“It’s putting everybody in a weird position. ... We’ve had staff come out and say, ‘This is bullshit. We’re not an essential business.’ And I don’t necessarily disagree, but this is the environment we’re in, and we’re just trying every single day to balance all of that and take the right path,” Szuter said at the time.

On June 18, Wolf's Ridge reopened its dining room for reservations-only service with sanitary and social distancing measures in place. Then, yesterday (Sunday, July 12), following the restaurant's brunch service, Wolf's Ridge again closed its doors for dine-in service. "While the brewery has not had any employees test positive for COVID-19, the management team is proactively closing the dining room to protect their staff and the community against any potential risks as cases climb each day," a spokesperson said via email.

In the meantime, Wolf's Ridge will continue its beer delivery service and its curbside/carryout orders. There is no timeline for a return to dine-in service.

Last week, Alive looked at the disparate responses taken by local restaurants and bars in reaction to the recent COVID-19 spike. While some establishments have taken immediate, open actions when an employee tests positive for the virus, others have been less than transparent. Wolf's Ridge Brewing's dine-in closure is significant in that it signals a bold, safety-above-all-else approach: The brewery looked at the community spread and closed as a precautionary measure rather than waiting to take a reactionary step.

Here's the full statement from Jenny Hauck, marketing coordinator at Wolf's Ridge:

"The safety of our staff and customers will always remain our first priority. While we have not yet had a member of our team test positive for COVID-19, we have made the preemptive decision to close our dine-in service operations, effective immediately. This is an incredibly difficult time to navigate as a small business, and these are not easy decisions to make. Dine-in service provided us the opportunity to offer staff more hours and brought some sense of normalcy back to our business after months of shuttering the doors. It is with firm resolve, but a sad and heavy heart, that we make the choice to close our doors for service once again. We don’t know when we’ll open back up, but you’ll hear it here first through our social platforms."