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Downtown Breakfast Restaurant Didn’t Close After Employee Tested Positive for COVID-19

Yolk continued to serve diners, and allegedly failed to notify its employees that one of their co-workers had contracted the virus


A Downtown Dallas breakfast spot remained open for business even after an employee tested positive for Covid-19, raising concerns amongst other employees over how management has handled the situation in the midst of the pandemic.

A worker at Yolk in One Arts Plaza tested positive for the virus last week. Other workers told the Dallas Morning News that management did not properly notify staff of the illness, and that employees who had contact with the infected coworker were not encouraged to self-quarantine. Meanwhile, the restaurant continued to serve diners. Vanessa Rodriguez, a hostess at Yolk, came to work on May 26 feeling slightly unwell. She initially thought her symptoms were related to her diabetes, and was hesitant to call in sick or take off early for fear of repercussions from management. A few hours after her shift ended, she was hospitalized and tested positive for coronavirus.

Rodriguez’s boyfriend Graham Shelton, who is a server at Yolk and lives with Rodriguez, told managers at the restaurant that he was going to self-isolate and be tested at the end of two weeks to see if he had contracted the virus from Rodriguez. According to the boyfriend, managers at the restaurant kept him on the schedule and requested he return to work, telling him he didn’t need a second Covid-19 test even though his doctor had recommended it. Two other servers weren’t notified of their exposure to the virus, and continued to have contact with diners.

The owner of Yolk, Taki Kastanis, told the paper that Shelton was required by management to isolate himself for two weeks because he lives with Rodriguez, and he was taken off the schedule for that time period. He also said that employees are screened for symptoms, and that Rodriguez did not exhibit any symptoms during her shift on May 26.

The Chicago-based restaurant chain’s ownership said management followed CDC guidelines when it came to informing employees of the diagnosis. However, Rodriguez said the restaurant never screened her for covid symptoms at any time since the pandemic began in March, even though screening employees for symptoms is one of the minimum recommended health protocols for reopened restaurants listed by Texas Health and Human Services.

A number of restaurants throughout Texas have closed temporarily after employees have tested positive for Covid-19, including Hula Hut in Austin, the recently-opened Musaafrer in Houston, and Town Hearth in Dallas.