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Rainey Street bar owner deals with COVID-19 scare, says precautions helped prevent cluster of cases

The Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden owner said one of their employees tested positive.

AUSTIN, Texas — After the popular bar on Rainey Street Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden had a COVID-19 scare, owner Ben Siegel said their safety precautions are working and helped prevent more spread of the virus. 

Recently, one of the Banger's employees tested positive, and Siegel admits it was scary. 

"Once you're actually faced with the situation, you kind of got to figure out what to do," said Siegel. 

Siegel said he made sure all 34 employees got tested and everyone, besides that first employee, tested negative. The management team also said no customers tested positive either, and Banger's has been making it a point to keep everyone updated with social media. 

Banger's posted a statement on Nov. 9 announcing its first COVID-19 case, saying in part: 

"Based on the safety measures we have in place to protect our guests during service, we do not feel any guests are at risk at this time. However, if anyone reading this is concerned, please send us a direct message or email at info@bangersaustin.com and we would be happy to assist you in any way we can."

Banger's closed for about seven months before reopening in October because Siegel said they wanted to be prepared for customers with plenty of safety precautions and policies. 

"The most gratifying thing out of this whole thing was just the fact that I feel very confident now that a business can open and operate safely in this environment," said Siegel.

Siegel thinks all the coronavirus precautions have been worth it. He said social distancing, temperature checks and the constant sanitizing have prevented more spread at this bar.

"We're constantly tweaking and constantly trying. That's the thing is, don't give up. If you're in it, you're still in it and stay positive except where you're at and do the best you can," said Siegel.

The bar had to close down temporarily while everyone got tested and was able to clean up their space. But now they're back in business. 

"We've got people that are working and doing the best they can try to enforce the rules that basically me and the leadership team have put in place to keep them safe," Siegel said. "I think in a lot of small businesses, like mine, you hear a lot of stories about people getting a really hard time and so I just am really grateful."  

When KVUE interviewed Siegel in June, and Banger's had been closed for so long, he said the closure had cost him $1 million. Siegel told KVUE that in the summer he had to furlough dozens of employees and went from nearly 110 to 13.

However, Siegel said the money the bar is making now is helping them break even for the money they lost throughout the pandemic. 

WATCH: Rainey Street bar owner deals with COVID-19 scare, says precautions helped prevent cluster | KVUE

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