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Bern’s Steak House temporarily stops cellar and kitchen tours due to coronavirus

The restaurant also canceled some events at its annual Winefest.
The wine cellar at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa.
The wine cellar at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Mar. 13, 2020
Updated Mar. 13, 2020

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Tours of the lauded wine cellar and kitchen at Tampa’s Bern’s Steak House have been temporarily suspended, the restaurant announced Friday.

Citing the spread of COVID-19, now considered a global pandemic, the restaurant’s owner David Laxer said the tours will no longer be held, a precaution for the health of both employees and diners.

“The health of our guests and staff is paramount and while we understand these tours are a unique part of the experience at Bern’s Steak House, we must adhere to the recommendations of health professionals,” Laxer said in a statement.

In addition, Laxer said that the restaurant practices “the strongest cleaning protocols” and that employees who are feeling ill have been instructed to stay home.

The restaurant, which has built a loyal following not only for its steaks but for its personable customer service, will also be re-evaluating some of its traditional service practices to “limit person-to-person contact without sacrificing attention to our guests.”

For now, that doesn’t mean big changes to the table-side food service the restaurant is known for.

“Table-side Caesar (salads)? We’re still doing that. Bananas Foster? That’s still happening,” said Brooke Palmer Kuhl, director of public relations for the restaurant. “Could that change? We are taking everything the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says seriously."

No reservations are being canceled, and the restaurant group — which also operates nearby restaurants Haven, Elevage, the Epicurean Hotel and Little Midway — is working to figure out solutions going forward, including the possibility of more takeout operations and partnering with third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, Kuhl said.

Some events at Bern’s Winefest, the popular multiday wine and cocktail extravaganza sponsored by Bern’s Steak House, have also been canceled. The B6 barbecue event and the Grand Tasting on April 25 and 26 are canceled. Additional events at the weeklong festival, including seminars and ticketed dinners, are still being evaluated, a statement from the restaurant group said.

Ticket holders will be issued a full refund for canceled events. More information on the remaining Winefest events will be available on March 26.

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