INDIANAPOLIS — The operator of St. Elmo Steak House issued a statement on Wednesday night saying the restaurant is mourning the loss of a "long-time valued employee."
"As a 100+ year old Indianapolis institution, I am proud that St. Elmo Steak House has been my family's business for more than 30 years," Craig Huse, the CEO of Huse Culinary said. "And like a family, we are mourning the loss of a long-time, valued employee and genuinely great person, who had a huge heart and a glowing smile."
The employee's death was reported as a COVID-19 workplace fatality to the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday. The news followed the popular steak house closing early on Saturday due to nine employees testing positive for coronavirus.
Huse said he is collaborating with the employee's family to create a fundraiser on the employee's behalf.
"Their family is our family," Huse said. "Overwhelming support from clients and guests sharing similar situations from their families and workplaces, helps us know that we are not alone."
Huse went on to explain that the safety of their employees and patrons is "our highest priority."
When the nine employees tested positive, the restaurant voluntarily shut down. Huse said they worked with local health officials to develop a plan to safely reopen, which included a deep cleaning and testing all returning employees for coronavirus.
"Since the world changed in March of 2020, the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries financially," Huse said. "All the while, we worked diligently to provide a safe dining experience for guests to be nourished and entertained ... while using stringent protocols above and beyond what is recommended by the CDC and state and local health departments."
According to Huse, prior to the recent virus outbreak, St. Elmo experienced two consecutive months without a coronavirus case.
Additionally, Huse said since the pandemic began the popular downtown restaurant has served 96,719 people and a total of nearly 500,000 at all Huse Culinary restaurants. Of those guests, Huse said he had not received notification of a single positive case being traced back to any Huse Culinary restaurant, including St. Elmo.
The restaurant reopened at a limited capacity on Monday.