Hillsboro Cafe adjusting hours, service amid COVID-19 concerns

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Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 6:00 am

ro Cafe are shutting down their dine-in service in response to the new coronavirus, which surfaced Tuesday in neighboring Cass County.

Kate Ehnert said the Main Street diner closed its doors Thursday to take a one-day break to allow staff to shift gears and take a breather.

The cafe will begin offering carryout and delivery service today (Friday) and change its hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. seven days a week starting Monday. 

In an interview prior to the announcement, Ehnert said the cafe has seen a recent slowdown following the Trump administration’s recommendation that public gatherings be held to fewer than 10 people due to COVID-19.

“It’s definitely been slower around here,” Ehnert said. “We had fewer people in here Saturday than we normally do and there were no tournaments going on, no sports that take people out of town.”

State officials haven’t enforced specific rules to limit the hours of operation of bars and restaurants in North Dakota.

But states like Illinois and Ohio announced Sunday that all bars and restaurants within their borders would close but continue to offer delivery and carryout services due to the pandemic.

Ehnert said she and her husband, Derek, had planned to continue offering table service at The Hillsboro Cafe as long as possible, although the positive case of COVID-19 in Cass County announced Tuesday changed their minds.

“We’ve been paying close watch on what North Dakota and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have been saying,” Ehnert said. “But there are very few restaurants in this country that are cash flush … so we’ve been trying to stay open as long as possible.”

The restaurant’s top priorities revolve around serving the community and paying the cafe’s employees, Ehnert said.

“Our staff depend on their paychecks so we didn’t want to necessarily add to the panic by shutting down,” she said.

Jackie Halvorson, manager of Subway restaurant at 22 6th St. N.W., said that the sandwich shop will remain open for dine-in guests for the time being.

Employees have been instructed to sanitize “customer touchpoints” on an hourly basis due to the coronavirus.

Customers worried about eating at the restaurant can rely on Subway’s drive-thru lane, call ahead or order online and pick up their meals, she said.

Hillsboro’s Burger King location has reduced its hours of operation to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. citing the coronavirus.

In addition to impacting Subway and the Hillsboro Cafe, COVID-19 also has impacted events like the Hillsboro Vets Club’s annual Friday night fish fries.

Organizers have announced that tonight’s fish fry – as well as upcoming fries March 27 and April 3 – will be takeout or delivery only.

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