The Ranchers Roast Beef in Washington C.H. will be reopening Friday after closing for a week to protect the community and staff from contracting COVID-19.
The locally-owned restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday and will then resume normal hours on Monday.
Owner Fred Wollscheid explained, “(Closing) was a tough decision. Obviously on one hand I was worried about my employees financially and my family financially, but I thought, ‘I have an obligation to my community to do this.’”
Approximately three weeks ago Wollscheid tested positive for the virus although his wife, Susan, tested negative.
“I didn’t even have any symptoms when I tested positive,” said Wollscheid. “Luckily it was very mild for me — I just felt tired. I didn’t cough, I didn’t have a fever or anything. I just felt drained.”
The only reason Wollscheid got tested was due to his wife being an attorney who recently visited the Fayette County Jail for work. The jail had a recent outbreak of COVID-19.
Wollscheid went into quarantine and about the time he was able to return to work, a Ranchers employee tested positive. Following that development, two staff members started to feel ill, and a second employee reported she tested positive last Friday.
“At that time I thought, before this gets worse, we need to shut down even if it’s just for a week. Just to get everyone tested and back on track,” said Wollscheid. “If two or three people in here, myself included, has it or had it, it would just be the best thing to do.”
Since the restaurant closed last Friday, every staff member has been tested and all have reported their results back to Wollscheid except one. While the original reopening date had been Dec. 7, all tests that have come back have been negative, so it was decided the restaurant would reopen earlier than expected.
He further explained the choice to shut down did not involve Fayette County Public Health although he did let them know his plans to temporarily close.
“Rather than risk all my staff or the customers, just close it down — it was the right thing to do. It was a tough thing to do, don’t get me wrong,” said Wollscheid. “To me, the money’s not worth it to put someone’s life in danger. I know them personally. I’ve got friends now whose father is on his last couple of days of life because he got COVID. He was already in bad shape, don’t get me wrong, but it sped the process up. I feel terrible for these families that have to deal with that.”
According to Wollscheid, the restaurant and the food equipment were re-cleaned and sanitized on Thursday. The Washington Court House Ranchers Roast Beef is located at 501 S. Elm St.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.