Coronado's Cheesecake-Factory-Owned The Henry Fails To Alert County Of Employee Who Tested Positive For COVID-19

July 6, 2020

Coronado's Cheesecake Factory-owned The Henry had an employee test positive for COVID-19 and rather than temporarily closing, alerting the County Health Department and advising the public, the restaurant continued to operate through the busy holiday weekend.

Over the weekend, a since-deleted inquiry was posted on the San Diego Reddit page by an alleged The Henry staff member who was seeking advice on what to do after the company announced a manager was found to be COVID-19 positive. After seeing this, we reached out to representatives of The Henry and its parent company Fox Restaurant Concepts to confirm an employee tested positive for coronavirus and to find out why they chose not to close, carrying on business as usual through the holiday weekend.

A since-deleted post by Reddit user 
"In this case, we closed Friday evening after we learned about the confirmed exposure," read an email from Anita Walker, Vice President of Marketing for Fox Restaurant Concepts. "The restaurant was immediately professionally sanitized. We are very fortunate to have a third-party on call sanitation resource that allowed us to meet cleaning requirements overnight, and re-open the next day."

In our outreach, we sent several specific questions to representatives of The Henry, which they conveniently skirted in response. San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has issued guidance on measures for food facilities, bars, brewpubs, breweries, pubs and wineries to take once notified that an employee or customer has tested positive for COVID-19. The first step is to notify the DEH, which The Henry in Coronado confirmed it did not do.

The second step advised by the DEH is to self-close the facility and conduct a deep disinfection. Based on responses from representatives of The Henry, the restaurant closure only occurred during normal off hours.

The third step advised by the DEH is to determine whether any staff was in close contact, within six feet for more than 15 minutes of the individual with COVID-19 and, if so, those staff members should self-quarantine for 14 days. The Henry was vague when asked about additional staff coming into contact with the infected employee but did state their policy that any employee with a positive test is not permitted to return to work until 10 days have passed since a positive test and the employee has been symptom free for at least 72 hours; or, if the employee has had 2 negative test results (24 hours apart) and has been symptom free for at least 72 hours.

In recent weeks, several San Diego restaurants have closed and alerted the public of employees being infected with COVID-19, including Nolita Hall in Little Italy, Cesarina in Point Loma, SKA Bar in Normal Heights, Mission Avenue Bar in Oceanside, Metl in the Gaslamp, and most recently, Pete's Seafood & Sandwiches in North Park. We asked the representative of The Henry why they chose not to go public with the information and this was there response: "Immediately our teams are given factual information to share with any guest with questions in the restaurant or online. I know these conversations were occurring, so I’m not sure where you received information that we did not disclose information." We asked for evidence of any disclosure, which they failed to provide.

The Henry is the product of Sam Fox, who has owned more than 100 restaurants since dropping out of the University of Arizona when he was 20 years-old. Since launching in 1998, his Fox Restaurant Concepts evolved to over a dozen different concepts, including The Henry, North Italia Flower Child, and Blanco's Tacos & Tequila, which all have locations in San Diego. Last summer, the Cheesecake Factory purchased Fox Restaurant Concepts for $308 million - resulting in the sale of 45 restaurants across 7 states and Washington D.C.. The deal also included an additional $45 million to be due based on profitability over the next four years. Fox Restaurant Concepts continues to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary led by Sam Fox from his headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Fox allegedly owns a home in Coronado and splits his time between San Diego and Arizona. In March, during the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, Sam Fox himself launched a GoFundMe campaign entitled, Fox Restaurant Concepts' Team Relief Fund, which crowd-sourced nearly $90,000 of its half million dollar goal to "help furloughed employees." 

The Henry is located at 1031 Orange Avenue in San Diego's Coronado. For more information, visit