PORTLAND, Ore. — Several Portland restaurants are starting to feel the impact of the omicron variant, and some have temporarily closed because too many employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
The 1905, a jazz club in North Portland, was one of the establishments that closed this week because of positive COVID-19 cases among the staff. The club normally has live jazz performances seven days a week along with a full kitchen and bar.
"The impact of omicron has been relentless. It's impacted us in terms of customer turnout and it's hit a few employees and it's taking a toll," said co-owner Aaron Barnes.
He said the club just recently overcame staffing shortages — then a handful of employees tested positive.
"We don't have a super deep bench," Barnes said. "So when we are down a couple of people, it has a dramatic impact on our ability to offer the best product and services."
The 1905 isn't the only business in the Portland area feeling the impact of the omicron wave.
Dublin Pub in Southwest Portland, Eem, a Thai restaurant and cocktail bar in North Portland, and Lottie & Zula's sandwich shop in Northeast Portland all posted to social media this week that they would be temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
"This feels like a huge punch in the gut for me and the team," Lottie & Zula's wrote on Facebook. "We are all vaccinated and boosted so we stand a good chance of getting through this and back at it as soon as it’s safe for us to do so."
Back at The 1905, Barnes said safety is his top priority for customers and employees.
"It has to be, I mean we can't operate if we don't have a staff, we can't operate if we don't have customers," he said. "So we're doing everything we can to protect both sides. Same with musicians."
The jazz club has been requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to get in. Barnes said the owners are now considering additional safety protocols as they look to hopefully reopen next week.
"I'm excited to see what we can do with it. I think we can maintain a lot of what we do and share the art with our community."
The 1905 is eyeing next Wednesday for their possible reopening day. In the meantime, the club has started a GoFundMe to support its musicians and staff who are temporarily out of work.