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Senate dining operations substantially scaled back because of COVID-19

Six of nine Senate dining options will be closed, remaining three with reduced hours

A sign for the Dirksen Building cafeteria.
A sign for the Dirksen Building cafeteria. (CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 8:23 p.m. | As the Senate works on a $1 trillion aid package to mitigate the disastrous economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, food service workers supporting the business of the chamber will work reduced operating hours, according to a directive obtained Thursday by CQ Roll Call.

Coffee Shop, American Grill, Dirksen Buffet, Refectory, Inside Scoop and Cups & Company will all be closed. The Dirksen Cafe will remain open from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The Senate Dining Room will be open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Senate Carryout will be accessible from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. or until the last scheduled vote, with a 9 p.m. cutoff. The hours of operation apply to weekdays.

Lawrence Barr, the acting Senate superintendent, said in an email that the changes to restaurant operations and hours were among the steps being taken “to actively practice social distancing by modifying operations to reduce interactions across campus.”

Food service is provided by two contractors in the Senate: Restaurant Associates and KSC Inc.

“All Senate staff will remain on payroll from March 16, 2020, to March 27, 2020,” said Sam Souccar, a spokesman for Restaurant Associates. “During this time period, no employee will have to use any accrued personal time, unless they had a previously scheduled and approved request. All full-time employees will be paid a full day’s wage (8 hours).”

[Members’ Dining Room embraces 21st century — sort of]

Restaurant Associates owns the majority of food service operations in the Senate, with the exception of Cups & Company, which closed Tuesday and will pay its employees.

Restaurant Associates also operates the Capitol Cafe at the Capitol Visitor Center, which is currently closed for tours. The company intends to keep all CVC staff on payroll from March 16, 2020, to March 27, 2020, Souccar said.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the office responsible for closing the Capitol Visitor Center.

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