Shuttered by Ebola, The Gutter reopens after scrub-down

Shuttered by Ebola, The Gutter reopens after scrub-down
Photo by G.N. Miller

The Williamsburg bowling alley that an Ebola-infected doctor visited last week spared no precaution in cleaning up to prevent another strike from the deadly virus.

Politicians descended on The Gutter on Friday and Saturday to assure Brooklynites that it is still safe to bowl there after Manhattan doctor Craig Spencer paid a visit on the evening of Oct. 22, days after returning from a stint treating Ebola patients in Guinea, and one day before he came down with a high fever and checked into Bellevue Hospital Center with the illness. Bowling alley management shuttered the facility the following evening and kept it closed through Saturday despite getting the all-clear from health officials the afternoon prior. Borough President Adams and Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg) told media members gathered on the N. 14th Street sidewalk outside the shuttered alley on Oct. 24 to remain calm.

“Our goal here in Brooklyn is to allow people to respond to facts and not hysteria, to have people understand exactly what Ebola is and how does one contract it,” Adams said. “We do not want to go to or return to the days where people were just petrified over unknown viruses.”

Before reopening, The Gutter got two scrub-downs, one from the feds, and another from a Long Island biohazard-abatement firm, the New York Post reported.

Borough President Adams broke in a lane on Saturday afternoon, bowling two frames for the cameras, according to reports.

The Gutter’s closure came in the midst of the five-day CMJ Music Marathon, disrupting what would have been a busy evening of live music at the alley.

“We voluntarily decided to close The Gutter yesterday evening as a precautionary measure while we gathered more information,” owner Todd Powers wrote on the venue’s Facebook page on the morning of Oct. 23.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett recounted Spencer’s itinerary from the time he had contact with an Ebola patient in Guinea on Oct. 12. He returned to New York on Oct. 17 and started feeling tired on Tuesday, Oct. 21. That day, he went to a park and a Meatball Shop restaurant in Manhattan. The following day, he caught the A and L trains from his Harlem apartment to The Gutter, then hitched a ride in an Uber car. On Thursday, he took his temperature and found that it was 100.3 degrees and was carried by ambulance to Bellvue, where he tested positive for the disease.

Lentol cautioned Brooklynites against hysteria. But he also suggested that the Center for Disease Control should enact stricter rules for doctors and others returning from Ebola-stricken countries.

“Some of them want to travel back to the United States and we understand that, but there may have to be some better practices,” said Lentol. “We may have to call upon the CDC to standardize protocol.”

Williamsburg regulars we polled shrugged off the media circus surrounding the tropical disease’s visit to Brooklyn, saying all it made them feel is a newfound appreciation of The Gutter.

“I think this is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I could die of so many more things and I know Ebola will never touch me,” Cordelia Persen said. “Now I suddenly want to go there.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurf‌[email protected]‌ngloc‌al.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitt‌er.com/‌Danie‌lleFu‌rfaro.