CARIBOU, Maine — Business at Burger Boy is steadily returning back to normal following a May 17 announcement from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention stating that an employee had exposed patrons to the hepatitis A virus.
Now, with hospitals offering vaccines, and the recent news that there is no longer a risk associated with going to the restaurant, customers are steadily returning to Caribou’s iconic eatery.
“Every day since Tuesday, we’ve been getting a little bit busier,” said Burger Boy owner Spenser Ouellette, “and the support from the community has been great. We’re getting positive feedback online and local hospitals and clinics are helping to educate the public and letting them know what hepatitis A is, and that this could have happened anywhere.”
Throughout the week, residents have shown their support by creating a Facebook page dedicated to the restaurant, and also a Go Fund Me page with a fundraising goal of $10,000 to help the restaurant recoup some of the losses caused by the public panic.
This week alone, Ouellette said he had to cut a total of 100 hours from his staff due to these losses.
“Sales were down tremendously this week, so we had to cut down on hours,” he said, adding that the “mind-blowing amount of support” he’s received throughout the week, along with the steady increase of customers each day, has given him optimism that things should be returning back to normal next week.
While May 22 was the last day of Cary Medical Center’s scheduled vaccination clinics, Pines Health Services had plans to continue to offer vaccinations on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Caribou Health Center. Those who ate at the restaurant on May 9 would have needed to receive a vaccination by May 24 at the latest, and anyone who ate there on May 13 would need to have received a vaccination by May 27.
While these vaccinations are recommended, medical officials say the risk of actually contracting the virus is fairly low, and people who believe they are showing symptoms are encouraged to contact their physician or medical provider with any concerns.
“I just want to thank everyone again for the private messages on Facebook about coming here, eating, and getting ice cream,” Ouellette said. “I have customers from all over telling me that things will be okay, and it’s given me hope and helped me stay positive throughout this crisis we’ve been going through.
“It’s getting a little bit better every day, but we still need the public’s help to support us and get our employees back to their normal hours.”