ROCKFORD — A downtown restaurant and bar with communal tables has closed for dining to the public because of the pandemic, but it will host private events and may reopen at some point.


Social Urban Bar & Restaurant, 509 E. State St., which temporarily closed like other restaurants in the state in March to prevent spread of the coronavirus, had been serving only cocktails the past few months during limited hours, owner Paul Sletten said Wednesday. But it stopped doing so last weekend.


Bars and restaurants were closed for varying periods across the globe to prevent spread of COVID-19, the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease caused by the coronavirus. It spreads through respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing and talking.


Sletten said Social could reopen after a vaccine is in place. Infectious disease experts say that could be months from now.


"I don’t want to do it differently," Sletten said of Social’s dining experience featuring shared seating with other diners not necessarily from the same group. He said dining for the public won’t reopen there "until people can join each other at a table."


Meanwhile, staff from Social have joined staff at another downtown eatery Sletten owns a few doors down: Abreo, 515 E. State St. All told, Sletten now employs between 20 and 25 people at Abreo, he said.


Over the past few months, favorite food and drink menu items at Social and Abreo have been combined at Abreo. And Sletten has added heaters at Abreo to extend outdoor seating.


Georgette Braun: gbraun@rrstar.com; @GeorgetteBraun