Owner of Tally’s and Delmonico confirms three employees are COVID-19 positive

A couple enjoys dinner recently at Tally’s Silver Spoon in downtown Rapid City. The restaurant has taken out tables to give its dine-in customers the recommended social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Jeff Easton, Journal staff

The owner of Tally’s Silver Spoon and Delmonico Grill confirmed in an email Thursday that three employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Chef and owner Benjamin Klinkel did not specify which of the two restaurants the employees worked at, what dates and times they worked, or what areas of the restaurant they worked in.

“None of that information will help you to accurately inform our community,” Klinkel said. “The Department of Health is very thorough as they follow up with positive cases.”

The state Department of Health has not provided a public notice for the businesses yet.

“Our disease investigations are continuously ongoing and we issue public notices as appropriate,” Derrick Haskins, communications director for the state health department, said Thursday. “At this time, we do not have any public notices planned for the Rapid City area.”

News of the three employees came a day after Tally’s posted on its Facebook page that the restaurant would close for dinner service Wednesday evening. The post read that Tally’s would reopen for business Thursday and offer curbside and delivery service from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Klinkel said that while Tally’s and Delmonico are adhering to CDC guidance for keeping the businesses open, “we are certainly susceptible to this virus.”

“Despite our best efforts to keep everyone safe, we have experienced positive tests last week on three employees,” Klinkel said in an email, noting both restaurants will continue to follow CDC, Department of Health and Monument Health guidelines for close contact. “All of our employees are notified of anyone reporting symptoms at any time via group communication, and they are expected to respond accordingly.”

Klinkel said all employees wear masks in the building, get their temperatures checked when they clock in and continually sanitize all contact surfaces in the dining room, kitchens and bathrooms.

Employees have also been given the opportunity to evaluate their living situations individually and decide if they would like to return to work, Klinkel said.

Klinkel said that until Payroll Protection Plan funds are exhausted, employees will continue to be compensated equal to or greater than unemployment compensation “so as to ensure our employees are not pressured to be at work,” he said.

Klinkel said employees are instructed not to come to work with any symptoms and to be symptom-free for a minimum of 72 hours if any symptoms are observed, noting those who test positive are asked to isolate and follow CDC guidance on being cleared for return to work. He also said employees have been asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

“We have protocol in place and have planned for this virus to show up in our community,” Klinkel said. “We are prepared and ready to face with calm logic what will inevitably affect us all. If we get to a point where we are not comfortable or not adequately staffed for normal operation, we will make the adjustments to service hours and procedures that we see fit based on our collective level of comfort and the advice of qualified council.”

Klinkel said this may mean the dining room could be closed in the future, and curbside service could resume for a time at one or both locations.

“We will continually evaluate and respond with the safety of our staff and our city being our first priority,” he said. 

Klinkel said he wishes the employees a speedy recovery, and says he hopes the community will support the businesses “knowing we are doing all we can.”

“We opened right away, knowing that this pandemic was not over and we as a community are not immune. In so doing, we are blazing (the) trail for others to reference for better or worse when they encounter the same obstacles this virus presents,” Klinkel said. “We believe in transparency for our business and privacy for our employees. Please honor that.”

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