Minneapolis restaurant quarantines 13 who worked Trump event

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. on Sept. 30.
Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images file

Thirteen staff members from an iconic Minneapolis steakhouse were quarantining after the restaurant catered a fundraiser attended by President Donald Trump during his visit to Minnesota last week, the restaurant said Monday.

The 13 work for Murray's Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, which catered the fundraiser on Wednesday at the Lake Minnetonka home of Marty Davis, CEO of the quartz countertop manufacturer Cambria Co. LLC. About 40 contributors paid $200,000 a couple or $100,000 per person for the chance to meet the president and hear him speak.

“Our staff was there to work the party only and at no point did any staff come in close proximity to the president,” the restaurant said in a statement. “Upon learning of the president’s positive COVID-19 test, we immediately enacted a 14-day quarantine for all staff who worked the party. Additionally, each staff member who worked the party will be tested for COVID-19.”

Murray's, a family owned restaurant since 1946, is famous as “Home of the Silver Butter Knife Steak." It's popular among the city's movers and shakers and sports figures. A spokesman for the restaurant, Chuck Sanger, said the restaurant is still able to operate normally despite the quarantine.

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Davis has not returned multiple messages from The Associated Press since the White House announced on Friday that the president had contracted COVID-19.

One guest at the Davis home in Shorewood, St. Paul philanthropist Helene Houle, said in an interview Monday that nobody got closer than six feet to the president. All the guests had to wait in their cars to get tested before then event, she said, and they weren't allowed to go in until everybody tested negative.

“We got to have our photos taken with President Trump but we weren't next to him, we were 6 to 8 feet away from him,” she said.

Then they took their assigned seats in the dining room, at some distance from the podium where Trump spoke. The tables were spread out, though the seating at each table was normally spaced, she said. Nobody was worried because they had all just tested negative, she said.

“He spoke for a good hour," Houle said. “We could ask him any question we wanted. It was really a thrill to be in the presence of the president for me," she said, adding that dinner wasn't served until Trump had left for his rally that night in Duluth. “Everything was pretty top shelf. It was lovely. The food was good.”

Also Monday, two more prominent Minnesota Republican politicians who came close to Trump during his visit said they had tested negative. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis both issued statements saying they got their test results back Monday. Both were part of the committee that greeted Trump as he got off Air Force One in Minneapolis last Wednesday. Also with them was House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who announced Saturday that he had tested negative. They've said that they did not shake hands with the president and remained several feet away from him during the encounter, which lasted under five minutes.

Gazelka, the state's top GOP elected official, said he's following his doctor's advice and continuing to limit his activities. He said he would get tested again later this week to confirm the results. But Lewis, a former congressman who's challenging Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, said he will return to the campaign trail.

Three GOP congressmen who flew with Trump on Air Force One to his rally in Duluth and back to Washington — Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn — reported Friday that they had tested negative. Lewis joined them for the flight to Duluth. The three congressmen have come under Democratic criticism for taking a regular Delta Air Lines flight home to Minnesota on Friday night.