Hazmats Suits & Closing ... Just For The Flu?

Contributed PhotoShake Shack plans to start serving burgers again Saturday, now that it’s confident no one will risk getting sick by coming in, according to a spokesman.

The popular Chapel Street spot, which opened amid fanfare in September 2012, closed abruptly this week. It covered the entrance in an extra layer of plastic sheeting and posted notices that offered no explanation of why it closed or when it would reopen.

Could it really all be ... over someone getting the flu?

A corporate spokesman emailed this explanation to the Independent Friday:

“On Wednesday, one employee at our New Haven location reported flu-like symptoms, and, using an abundance of precaution, we decided that day to temporarily close for a top-to-bottom professional cleaning.  As of today, Friday, no other employee or guest has reported experiencing any similar symptoms, and so we plan to re-open Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. Shake Shack will always take every step to ensure the complete well-being of our team and guests, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back tomorrow morning.”

The Register reported
that it spotted workers in hazmat suit inside the store, suggesting there may be more to the story.

The Shake Shack spokesman, Edwin Bragg, stated in a follow-up email to the Independent that the closing really, truly stemmed from nothing more than a worker getting “flu-like symptoms.”

“We decided to be on the safe side,” he stated. “To us, it’s always best to act with the utmost care, even if it means closing for a day or two.”

“Just one person,” Bragg confirmed. “No other reports—and that’s enough for us.”


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posted by: William Kurtz on April 4, 2014  3:09pm

Oh come on.

posted by: IloveMYcity203 on April 4, 2014  3:36pm

The Flu virus spreads like wildfire, and if I went in there to order a burger, but I just happen to catch the flu from touching the table, doorknob or anything in there that I could catch it from after touching my face, I would think I had food poison or something.

I would never go back to shake shack lol. I agree with them. It’s just becoming a big deal because it’s “shake shack.” People do the same thing when someone in their household gets over the Flu or stomach virus, they go on a cleaning and disinfecting spree.

If all the workers got sick, then shake shack would be closed longer, so they did the right thing in my opinion.

[excuse any typos. I don’t reread what I write on here lol]

posted by: robn on April 4, 2014  3:48pm

From a Wikipedia page I was just perusing, “Manifestation of Ebola begins with a sudden onset of an influenza-like stage characterized by…”
anyway…better safe than sorry

posted by: Shaggybob on April 4, 2014  4:46pm

Hazmat suits for the flu? NO Asbestos maybe.

I have NEVER heard of any restaurant ever closing for 3-4 days for 1 employee with flu symptoms.

It would be better PR to admit what really happened then to stick to a story like that. This Towns too small- we’ll know soon enough.

posted by: Lars3 on April 4, 2014  5:30pm

No way I believe it was the flu. Maybe someone puked in a fryer or the machine that makes the Concretes (or whatever they call those super thick shakes).

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 4, 2014  5:35pm

Go Vegen.Keep eating mad cow burgers.

The Burger That Shattered Her Life.


What if It Weren’t Called Pink Slime?


Why There’s Ammonia in Your Hamburger.


posted by: Joanne SYI on April 4, 2014  11:13pm

Please keep your minds open. Shake Shack has been an incredible partner to and supporter of Solar Youth since they opened. They’re good corporate citizens and people. Let’s see what the facts are as they develop.

posted by: georgie on April 5, 2014  8:56am

On WTNH, they mentioned that the restaurant was contacted by the health department.  SO my guess is that the employee was diagnosed with a REPORTABLE ILLNESS (there is a statute that mandates that certain illnesses be reported to the Health Dept, often just for statistical reasons, but sometimes, things need to be done, ie if a restaurant worker gets sick).

My guess is that the employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A, a food-borne, self-limited type of Hepatitis, which was reported to the Health dept. The symptoms of Hepatitis A might be characterized as flu-like. So the Shake Shack is not lying when it says that a worker came down with flu-like symptoms so they closed for cleaning. They would not want to risk breaking the worker’s medical confidentiality by actually releasing the specific illness, as most of the other employees probably know who was sick…Not to mention that just the word Hepatitis is more scary than “flu-like”

posted by: Stylo on April 5, 2014  7:36pm

Perhaps it was a very BAD flu, perhaps a stomach virus - and the employee exhibited, um, symptoms during work. Ew.

Personally, I think this reflects well on Shake Shack. They took a financial hit to be clean. Danny Meyer knows what he’s doing. Remember, his positive feedback on New Haven is what brought Mario Batali here. Shake Shack is a good neighbor.

posted by: PH on April 7, 2014  3:34pm

Norovirus a/k/a stomach flu is running rampant in CT.  It survives on most surfaces for 2 weeks and is resistant to most cleaning products.  If a sick employee threw up all over the place (“flu-like symptoms”) then this was a very smart public health decision.  And given that people tend to get very sick pretty quickly from the norovirus, it would be easy for sickened customers to assume it was food poisoning.

posted by: William Kurtz on April 7, 2014  9:44pm

“Personally, I think this reflects well on Shake Shack. They took a financial hit to be clean. “

You know what; you’re absolutely right. I take back my somewhat snarky comment and renounce my initial skepticism. Whatever the cause, they identified the problem and took steps to fix it, which is much better than the alternative, and much more than some other businesses might have done.