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Update: On Wednesday morning, June 17th, we received a comment from The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants. I would like to personally thank the brand for reaching out to share the latest information regarding the Lubbock location.

"While we don’t have confirmation that anyone has tested positive for Covid-19, out of an abundance of caution and in response to our staff members’ concerns, we closed the restaurant tonight for a deep cleaning by an outside company. If the company is made aware of a positive or a suspected positive case with a staff member the individual is immediately placed on quarantine and not allowed to work, the restaurant is thoroughly cleaned and we contact the local health department for guidance on how to proceed."

Spero G. Alex
Senior Vice President of Operations
The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Incorporated

Original story: On Tuesday, June 16th, multiple media outlets across town announced that the Lubbock Cheesecake Factory location was temporarily closed.

We also received many messages from concerned citizens about the possibility of The Cheesecake Factory being an exposure site for COVID-19 after a couple of posts began to circulate on social media.

One post can be found on social media with an alarming claim that the restaurant allowed an employee to stand in the walk-in freezer while knowing that COVID-19 symptoms were present.

And then there was video... 

Warning: there is explicit language in the video below. 

Naturally, these young people are scared and worried about facing backlash from the community for sharing their experience with a manager that should have some additional training if she knowingly let an employee work and encouraged other staff to continue working as well, but as a mother of kids their age, I can appreciate the bold move in trying to alert the community.

One of the main symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a fever.

In the video, an employee called "Martin" is heard seemingly talking with other workers outside the Lubbock restaurant. He accuses the others, at least one man and one woman, of "not following any guidelines."

The female responds to his concerns with "I'm sorry that you feel that way," and later says "if you feel like you need to go get tested, Martin, than you are more than welcome to get tested."

"Martin" then yells at the co-workers.

"Y'all let them work still knowing the [COVID-19] symptoms, knowing that she was not feeling well, just because y'all are shorthanded. Really? Every customer that walked in here, every employee...I brought my wife, too," he said. "How are we supposed to come back to work, knowing what y'all did."

The female worker than responds: "We're not asking you to come back to work. If you don't feel safe coming to work...if you decide you don't feel comfortable coming back to work, then you're more than welcome to take that decision."

"Martin" then asks if they're going to tell the public. She responds by saying that she cannot discuss anything until they get test results.

As of Tuesday afternoon, The Cheesecake Factory in Lubbock was closed due to COVID-19 concerns. We reached out to The Cheesecake Factory for a response to the video and to confirm its veracity, and will update this story with one should it be issued.

Calling All Parents

This should be a concern to all parents in our community, especially since Governor Abbott just name dropped Lubbock in a press conference and stated that it's the youth in our community who are largely responsible for the spread of the novel coronavirus. Though I see enough adults setting a bad example by not following the recommended guideline of simply wearing a mask.

If there are businesses in our community encouraging (not discouraging) employees to work while showing symptoms or adults completely ignoring health authority guidelines, what sort of implications might this have for each and every one of us?

I have some very strong thoughts about this matter and intend to pursue the truth about how these young men and women are being encouraged to work in conditions that may be detrimental to their health and those they may encounter.

Would you let your son or daughter go to work knowing that management encouraged such at-risk behavior? I sure wouldn't. I also lead by example when it comes to being in public. Darn right, I wear a mask.

If all of this is an overblown concern or a flat-out hoax, what harm does it do to wear a mask if you don't have any psychological or medical purpose for not wearing one?

I'm awfully afraid that our community hasn't been as hyper-vigilant about protecting what we hold most sacred: the lives our family, friends and neighbors.

It would be nice to be wrong, but I'm afraid that people who choose not to observe guidelines will continue to keep our community at risk and therefore, temporary closures will become permanent closures and we all lose.

Whether these young people are being overdramatic or not, nobody should be encouraged to work during this time if they feel unwell.

If the restaurant or retailer is understaffed, it isn't the responsibility of the employees to sacrifice their safety for the better of the business.

There are enough reputable restaurants in the community who would rather close for a day or two if understaffed than to be labeled a restaurant that puts the safety of its employees at risk to the detriment of the reputation in the community.

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