Like a lot of us, J. Selby’s owner Matt Clayton has spent 2021 watching COVID numbers, hoping for the best, and trying to keep his people safe and healthy. Even after indoor dining restrictions were lifted across Minnesota, he waited until July to reopen the dining room at his St. Paul vegan restaurant.
Remember July? Vaccination rates up? COVID-19 infection rates down? What a great and foolishly hopeful time that was.
“Unfortunately, things have changed,” Clayton wrote in a statement shared Sunday night. “Vaccination rates have stalled, the Delta variant has arrived, and our average daily case total is now over 2,100, levels we haven’t seen since last December.”
He goes on to say that after having conversations with the staff, the dining room is again closed, effective immediately. They’re doing contact-free curbside pickup and accepting orders at a new window on Selby until it seems like COVID cases are at a safe level again.
“I know this may seem extreme, but with the dining room open, our staff are exposed to hundreds of unmasked strangers each day in a relatively enclosed space,” he wrote. “While the risk for any individual diner may be small, the risk to the staff is exponentially larger.”
J. Selby’s isn’t the only place around that’s keeping its dining room closed—Duck Duck Coffee on 38th Street in Minneapolis has been takeout and outside seating only since the pandemic started—but it is one of the few that’s opened for indoor dining only to close again as Delta surges. There will probably be others.
Last week Axios reported on “the future of freezing-cold dining,” as restaurant owners look at climbing infection rates while winter weather looms.