By Bob Uphues
Riverside Foods, 48 E. Burlington St. in downtown Riverside, announced on Facebook Thursday night that the store would be closing temporarily on Friday, April 24 for a professional cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
"We have consulted with the health department and our particular situation has been deemed a 'low risk' exposure, and we have been cleared to stay open," the store announced.
The employee tested positive for COVID-19 on April 23 and, according to a Facebook comment in response to well wishes from a customer, the employee was "in good health, safe, at home, quarantining."
The store conducted its own deep cleaning Thursday night, but was open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 24. On Friday afternoon, the store "scheduled a professional COVID sanitation cleaning."
The store is slated to open for regular business at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, but will close at 1 p.m.
"We're closing early tomorrow to give a reprieve to our employees, to give ourselves and our staff a break," said co-owner Peter Boutsikakis.
The store will resume normal hours on Sunday, Boutsikakis said.
Earlier in the week, the store asked customers via a Facebook post to wear face coverings while inside the store. Riverside Foods said it would provide a face mask and gloves to any customer who requested them.
Boutsikakis said that after consulting with the Cook County Health Department, which performs health inspections for the village of Riverside, the store was given clearance to remain open.
The store could have simply stayed open without informing customers, but Boutsikakis said he and his family chose to address the situation openly, so customers knew.
"We decided we're just going to be transparent about it," Boutsikakis said. "Ultimately the decision was we have a clear directive from Cook County and the village to stay open, and we have an obligation to provide food for the community. We wanted to give people information so they can make their own decisions."
The store continues to offer delivery to senior citizens on Tuesday and Thursday in Riverside and surrounding communities. It also offers order-ahead curbside pickup on Monday Wednesday and Friday.