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Hot Chicken Favorite Howlin’ Ray’s Closes After Positive Coronavirus Test From Staff

by Michael McDevit
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Even with a slew of protocols in place, COVID-19 has come for one of LA’s most popular restaurants

by Farley Elliott

A bright red spicy chicken and fries order from Howlin’ Ray’s.
Howlin’ Ray’s  Jakob Layman

Nashville-style hot chicken specialist Howlin’ Ray’s has closed for today and tomorrow, at least, after one of the Chinatown restaurant’s workers tested positive for COVID-19.

“We’ve received confirmation that a member of the crew was unknowingly exposed to COVID and has tested positive as of last night,” co-owner Amanda Zone says in a Twitter thread just minutes ago. The employee is “mostly asymptomatic” but will “quarantine as long as needed” while the rest of the affected employees take rapid coronavirus tests. The restaurant will also be deep cleaned, or “blasted with UV light sabres,” says Zone.

The closure means that one of LA’s most popular restaurants will be out of commission for at least the next two days, and possibly longer. Prior to today’s news, Howlin’ Ray’s had been seen as something of a coronavirus endurance story, having managed to transition from long lines and a small space at Far East Plaza to become one of the most popular options on delivery app Postmates. No customers are allowed inside the restaurant, and drivers waiting to pick up food must show their order to an employee behind a glass wall, then move away while the meal is dropped from at least six feet away.

Still, even with all of those precautions in place. the restaurant has still had to close because of the coronavirus, showing just how problematic the virus is and has been for a restaurant industry trying to survive. Other restaurants like Osteria la Buca have also been forced to close in recent months due to employee outbreaks, while popular wholesale bakery Bub & Grandma’s has turned to using pods of employees working together in shifts as a way to combat its own outbreak back in June. Employees there now only work within their designated groups, thus limiting overall contact within the company.

If all goes well, expect Howlin’ Ray’s to return to Postmates in a few days

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