Aunt Catfish’s on the River reopens after coronavirus closure

Owner adds new safety measures

PORT ORANGE, Fla. – Tuesday was reopening day for Aunt Catfish’s on the River after the restaurant’s owner, Brendan Galbreath, voluntarily closed for more than a week because an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Galbreath showed News 6 his latest safety measures that he’s since put in place, starting with the dining room. He said they’ve always been at 50 capacit%y but decided to take out about 12 table tops and chairs to give customers even more space.

Galbreath said he installed Plexiglas for the booths, turning them into cubicles and converted the salad bar into a closed in bakery. Customers will also be required to use gloves while at their self serve station.

[READ: Aunt Catfish’s on the River temporarily closing after employee tests positive for COVID-19 | What some Volusia County restaurants are doing after employees tested positive for COVID-19]

“When they touch tongs and ladles and whatnot, then they’ll take them off and dispense them right away and no hands will actually touch that,” Galbreath said.

The owner also switched to single-use paper menus and got creative for opening bathroom door handles.

"We have upside down tissue dispenser so you can pull the tissue and then you could hold the door handle," he said.

Galbreath replaced a handheld thermometer with a wall mounted one for employee temperature checks that he said will be logged daily. Galbreath said he's spent thousands of dollars trying to limit the contact indoors, he's also reduced the restaurant hours.

Aunt Catfish’s on the River has added new safety measures. (News 6)

Pat Bowen drove in from Jacksonville to celebrate her birthday only to realize the restaurant was still closed under its new hours.

“We were hoping they’d let us in and feed us today,” Bowen said.

Bowen was disappointed but said she appreciates the owner caring about everyone's safety.

“That was just a natural progression of, that we’ll continue to limit any contact just by physically being open less hours. I’d ask people to be understanding, and just understand that this is not anything that anybody has asked for,” Galbreath said. “It’s a balancing act of best effort and being hopeful that it’s not brought to your doorstep again.”

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