The popular Mustard Seed Restaurant in Southgate Mall has closed voluntarily after a member of their staff that has no contact with the public tested positive for COVID 19.

Vice President of the Mustard Seed management company Chris Siemens said the restaurant closed its doors late Tuesday night, even though the Missoula City County Health Department said it wasn’t necessary to close altogether.

Out of an abundance of caution we decided it was best to close temporarily and try and work with the health department through that tracing process to figure out really what our best next course of action was.

“Part of the challenge here is there were some contact issues away from work with this staff member or some others, so out of an abundance of caution we decided it was best to close temporarily and try and work with the health department through that tracing process to figure out really what our best next course of action was,” said Siemens.

He said that Mustard Seed customers were in no danger of being exposed to this individual.

“Customers are not in a position of concern because the time period at the table is always much shorter,” he said. “Additionally, this particular incident was with one of our back of house team members and not one of our front of house staff. So with the proximity, the likelihood of any contacts really sort of customer base is very, very low.”

Siemens said the management is strictly following CDC guidelines in cooperation with the health department.

“They function specifically from the CDC guidelines,” he said. “That's the methodology they use. The key here is having close contact within that six foot barrier for 15 minutes or more. That defines what they might call a person of interest that they want to then get more knowledge through conversations of whether or not they're going to label that person as a close contact.”

Siemens said the restaurant itself is closed for indoor dining, but he hopes to have his call-in pick-up and delivery options open very soon.

“If I can get my kitchen staff established to do that, absolutely,” he said, “We are working to get there as fast as possible. It won't happen today but Tim our store manager and I are pushing the hard hoping for tomorrow. We're optimists by nature. At the end of the day, we're going to wait see what the health department gives us guidance on before we make that final decision.”