FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A Fort Collins restaurant opens for the first time Saturday since closing in June after a Hepatitis A outbreak.
More than six weeks ago, a worker at Tortilla Marissa’s contracted the virus, forcing the state health department to offer vaccination clinics for customers.
"It's an exciting time for us, but it's also a nervous time," says the restaurant’s owner, Mike Piotraschke.
The wait staff serves up Mexican food Saturday with a side of gratitude.
"At least, early on, they're back. It's what I like to do," says an emotional Piotraschke.
He knows he could have opened to an empty restaurant today.
"There's a lot of choices. The 50 days we were closed, people had other choices," he says.
And he knows some customers might still be concerned about the virus that sickened an employee--forcing the restaurant's closure and causing hundreds of diners to get vaccinated against the virus.
"We had been here twice within the last week since it (Hep A warning) was announced. We did go and get the shot like what was suggested," says longtime customers Paul Liptak.
The 26-year customer says he couldn't wait to get back.
He has no concerns about the virus anymore--and he says neither should anyone else.
"I can understand the concern out there. But I know none of my staff has it. We have done the things we needed to do," says Piotraschke.
They spent more than six weeks complying with state health department regulations—cleaning, sanitizing and getting ready to welcome their customers back.
Piotraschke voluntarily closed for the length of the disease’s incubation period.
"I wanted to come have lunch and support them. Because I think they did the right thing by not firing everybody and hiring new staff to stay open. I think that's commendable," says customer Holy Huett-Faatz of Windsor.
Indeed, the owners could have reopened the next with new staff.
The health department never discovered the exact source of the virus.
But Piotraschke says he's moving on.
"We can move forward and have a better future, because we had a pretty good past," he says.
The restaurant says only that one employee got sick from the virus. No customers.
He's not back at the restaurant--instead focusing on his health.
The restaurant says it probably lost about $80,000 in possible revenue during the closure.