Marin Co. restaurant cancels pre-ordered Thanksgiving meals after employee tests positive for COVID-19

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- It was an early Thanksgiving surprise for customers of a longtime North Bay restaurant.

Il Fornaio announced it has temporarily closed its Corte Madera restaurant, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Dozens of people who pre-ordered Thanksgiving meals were caught off guard. Now, health officials are busy doing contract tracing.

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Cleaning crews were disinfecting the interior of Il Fornaio Italian restaurant in Corte Madera Wednesday, after the staff member tested positive for coronavirus, according to management officials.

"I made a reservation for outdoor dining, but it's closed," said Howard Foster from San Rafael.

Customers found the front doors locked, and a note on the door explaining why.

"We were disappointed, the first thing we thought of was a COVID-19 outbreak," said restaurant customer Leah Burmas.

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Burmas and her daughter Bella are among the 42 customers who pre-ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Il Fornaio. On its website, it's billed as a Thanksgiving feast. But now those holiday orders can't be filled.

"We're visiting our in-laws, we were going to have Thanksgiving early, we're now getting Chinese food as a backup," Burmas added.

In an email to its Thanksgiving customers, I'll Fornaio said:
"We have made the decision to temporarily close the restaurant to have all staff tested. This was an extremely difficult decision as we hate to disappoint you, especially on a holiday but the health and safety of our staff is top priority."

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Public health officials say the restaurant did the right thing by closing right away. Now contact tracing can begin.

"Our job is to reach out to the establishment, have a conversation with the person who was infected, who they may have had contact with in work life," said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis.

Willis doesn't believe any recent outdoor diners were at risk.

Il Fornaio says all customers who pre-ordered Thanksgiving meals will get a full refund.

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