Mike’s City Diner reopens two weeks after its owner tested positive for COVID-19

The diner will start offering takeout and delivery Saturday.

Jay Hajj
Jay Hajj, center, with chefs Ming Tsai (left) and Ken Oringer (right) at Mike's City Diner. –Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Two weeks after Mike’s City Diner‘s owner Jay Hajj tested positive for COVID-19, the South End diner has announced it will reopen Saturday.

A Facebook post revealed the news Friday, announcing that the diner would reopen for takeout and delivery and that “we are excited to see all of you.”

Hajj first revealed the news of his test results on May 23 in a post on the diner’s Facebook page.

“Bad news today,” the post read. “I have tested positive for the novel COVID-19 virus. My symptoms are very mild. While I have not been in the kitchen or serving at Mike’s, out of an abundance of caution, we are closing the restaurant so the staff and I can self quarantine. Thank you for your understanding and support — we’ll let you know when we are back.”


The Center for Disease Control recommends a quarantine period of 14 days from the latest date of exposure to someone with COVID-19.

The chef’s post was met with notes of appreciation and encouragement from fans and diners.

“Your public announcement is truly appreciated,” Janet Sinclair wrote. “Sending you prayers for a complete recovery. Praying for all of your employees as well.”

“Thank you for being considerate and taking care of people. Wishing you a safe and speedy recovery,” Roberta Shanks wrote.

Hajj, a native of Beirut, Lebanon, landed in Boston after he and his family escaped the Lebanese Civil War when Hajj was a child. He cut his teeth washing dishes at Vinny Marino’s, an Italian restaurant in Roslindale, before opening falafel shop Temptations in the late ’80s. Hajj purchased Mike’s City Diner in 1995 when he was 25 years old, and transformed the diner into a destination for breakfast burritos, omelettes, and sandwiches, including his beloved Mike’s Famous Pilgrim sandwich, which the Food Network once named one of the top Thanksgiving dishes in the country.

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