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COVID-19 case shuts down iconic Atlanta restaurant; pandemic closes drive-in service

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    ATLANTA, GA (WGCL) — One of Atlanta’s most iconic landmarks, The Varsity, is closed Thursday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. And while the doors for the restaurant will open again, it’s legendary drive-in service will be forced to close.

Restaurant management confirmed to CBS46’s Adam Murphy it received word of the positive COVID-19 test late Wednesday night. The Varsity team member sickened by COVID-19 was last in the restaurant on Sunday, July 5. Management at The Varsity said the restaurant is cleaned multiple times a day, but out of an abundance of caution, the downtown Atlanta restaurant closed its doors Thursday for a deep cleaning.

While the doors of the restaurant will open back up on Friday; the drive-in service that has been one of the most recognizable parts of The Varsity will begin to be phased out.

Management told Murphy the decision to close out the drive-in service comes as a result of multiple issues COVID-19 posed to the restaurant. After evaluating the current situation and the difficulty of social distancing, masks, plexiglass protection, and other issues, management said it was impossible to keep the drive-in service open.

“The most important thing is safety, safety, safety for customers and our employees and that’s why we made that decision,” said The Varsity President Gordon Muir.

One of the largest problems The Varsity faces as the pandemic continues to rage across the United States is the lack of visitors in the downtown area. With no sporting events, no concerts, plays, or conventions, getting people in the door has proven tough even for an icon like The Varsity.

“I’ve been doing this for 35-years since I was 20 years old and this is the most difficult time I’ve ever been through working at this restaurant,” added Muir. “We have not sports, we have nothing at the FOX, there aren’t any conventions, the hotels are empty, Bank of America is empty, Coca-Cola is empty, the brand-new NCR building is empty,” he continued.

Management said if/when the pandemic recedes and normal life resumes, it’s possible the drive-in service could return.

The Varsity has been in business in downtown Atlanta since 1928. Over the decades it has expanded to multiple other locations around Georgia.

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Article Topic Follows: Regional News

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