Duck Duck Goose closes temporarily for employees to test for coronavirus

Duck Duck Goose owner closes restaurants temporarily so employees can be tested for COVID-19

Ashish Alfred says his employees in Bethesda, Baltimore will be paid while restaurants are closed

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Duck Duck Goose is closing temporarily so that employees can be tested for COVID-19. The restaurant has locations in Bethesda and Baltimore.

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Ashish Alfred, the owner of Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda and Baltimore, is closing his two restaurants temporarily so employees can be tested for COVID-19.

Alfred posted on Facebook on Sunday that the two restaurants would close temporarily and reopen “when the time is right.”

“My hope is that this time will allow my team to take all necessary measures to ensure their well-being and safety,” he wrote. “We will personally call each and every reservation to cancel. We hope our loving clients understand that we’re making the hardest possible decision in the interest of what we believe to be the greater good.

Alfred added in his message that he didn’t want to put his workers in “harm’s way,” but supports other restaurants that are staying open.

Alfred told Bethesda Beat in an interview Monday afternoon that after “a couple weeks,” he’ll reevaluate whether to reopen. In the meantime, he is requiring that all of his employees be tested for the virus before than can come back to work.

“I just wanted to be more proactive than reactive,” he said. “People after they leave work are still going out with their friends or to be with their families who have been out working somewhere else. So for me it was in the best interest of everyone’s safety.”

Alfred said restaurants in Baltimore and Ocean City were forced to close after employees tested positive for COVID-19, and he hopes to avoid that fate. He said he has seven employees at his Bethesda restaurant and 10 at the Baltimore location.

“So many people, they say, are walking around asymptomatic,” he said. “There’s so many questions and there’s just so much uncertainty. The people that work for me have families. They have friends. I just didn’t want them to feel like they were forced to be at work because we were open.”

Alfred said business has been OK at his two Duck Duck Goose restaurants, which have reopened at limited capacity during the past month or so. He said that when his employees aren’t at work during the shutdown, he will still pay their salaries, as well as other expenses he has, such as rent for the two restaurants.

“To be clear, we’re taking a quick break and it’s because we’re doing OK that we’re able to do so,” he said.

In May, Alfred was forced to close his other Bethesda restaurant, George’s Chophouse, due to a loss of business during the pandemic — particularly the inability to hold private events in The Loft upstairs.

Alfred said on Monday that while business at Duck Duck Goose hasn’t been near what it was before the pandemic hit, the restaurants are still doing well enough that they can close temporarily.

“We’ve been blessed in that our customers have been really, really good to us, and that’s what’s afforded us the opportunity to close for a couple weeks,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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