Zionsville restaurant deems take out too risky, closes

Zionsville restaurant to close during pandemic

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The Friendly Tavern in Zionsville announced Tuesday it was closing its curbside service for the health and safety of its employees.

Owner Scott Barnes explained his restaurant just isn’t set up for take out orders and proper employee social distancing. He said some businesses like pizza places can make this change, but until the pandemic clears up, “The Friendly” will be closing its doors.

The Friendly Tavern sells classic American food with a full bar in an 1870s historic building on Zionsville’s Main Street. It opened in 1957, according to Barnes, and plans to continue operating past the COVID-19 crisis.

The restaurant went to curbside pickup on March 16 and continued to post specials and thank-yous to customers for two weeks. Barnes said the restaurant was doing well.

“We’re busy, busy. Everyone supported us. We have great customers; they were taking care of the servers tip-wise. It’s been fantastic actually from that standpoint,” he said, “But we just aren’t set up to where you can social distance and provide service.”

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Barnes said they were ending all take out and food service orders. He said it was based around one main goal.

“Not to have anybody worrying or have fear when they’re coming to work, feel like they’re endangered,” he said. “It’s just simply a better decision just to shut it down, wait this out a little while, see what happens.”

Barnes also said he can’t get enough masks and gloves to protect his staff and decided that this isn’t the time to take any chances.

The reaction online has been mixed: some worry this is the end of The Friendly Tavern and concern that other restaurants will follow suit and never come back. Others said they understand the move and even applaud it.