The Big I

The International Hotel & Bar, known as The Big I locally, is temporarily closed through Sunday after members of a band that performed there Sept. 4 tested positive for COVID-19.

A popular downtown Fairbanks pub and live music spot is closed through Sunday after two band members who performed on stage there tested positive for COVID-19.

The International Hotel and Bar, known locally as The Big I, posted the announcement Thursday on its Facebook page, stating, “We found out late last night that two band members that performed on Friday 9/4 have tested positive for COVID. The bar was shut down immediately.”

The post goes on to say no Big I employees have displayed COVID-19 symptoms and that each employee who worked the night of Sept. 4 will not return to work until they test negative. The post finishes with, “The bar will remain closed until Sunday @ 9am to give us time to sanitize and deep clean. We wish the band members a speedy recovery. Thank you.”

On Thursday afternoon, both doors to The Big I were locked with signs posted stating the business was closed. A man who answered the door identified himself as Tom and said he was on janitorial duty, bleaching and cleaning the business. 

The Big I hosted a theme party the night of Sept. 4 with two bands, The Avery Wolves and Leaps and Bounds Music, performing. The event encouraged guests to dress in 1950s pin-up attire, as The Avery Wolves perform rockabilly, a music genre associated with the pin-up scene. The bands performed outside in The Big I’s open air beer garden.

The Avery Wolves shared The Big I’s post, writing, “Attention everyone who attended the show at the Big I this last weekend, we have been made aware that two members of the opening band tested positive for Covid-19. Our band is currently making plans to get tested as well, and we recommend you do so too if you were present. We wish a speedy recovery to the band members who were affected and appreciate their quick response in informing everyone. Our band will not make plans to perform for the remainder of the year, and will reassess the situation over the coming months for future bookings. Be safe everyone!”

Nick Hudson, with the band Leaps and Bounds, confirmed two members did test positive after the Sept. 4 performance.

“Unfortunately, two of our members did test positive and are already making a safe recovery,” Hudson said. “Everyone else is taking the right precautionary measures as well. Although we are not sure where the initial exposure could have come from, we appreciate the measures The Big I is taking to make sure their staff and patrons are safe after this past weekend’s show. We always try to make sure our operations are as safe as possible so we just hope everyone involved is taking the right measures to learn from these events.”

Nathan Davis, who took over ownership of The Big I from John Jackovich at the end of August, said he opted to close as soon as he was alerted of the cases. Davis said his manager called him at 9 p.m. Wednesday, and he made the call to close and clean following CDC guidelines.

“We shut it down the moment the band reported to us,” Davis said, adding he went over safety protocols with employees. “And from there we looked at the CDC website to see how long it would last on hard surfaces. That being said, we figured shut it down until Sunday morning and make sure it’s throughly cleaned.”

The CDC website recommends affected businesses close for at least 24 hours. The Big I’s closure started at 9 p.m. Wednesday and runs through 9 a.m. Sunday. 

“We’re taking every precaution we can to ensure everyone’s safety,” Davis said.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or at twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.