Frank and Julie Cocchia are the owners of the Cody Steakhouse. (Courtesy photo)

With her husband hospitalized in Billings because of the COVID-19 virus and their Cody Steakhouse restaurant temporarily closed, co-owner Julie Cocchia has changed her mind about the novel coronavirus.

“This is not going away,” she said. “People don’t really understand that.”

Her husband Frank Cocchia, 78, developed pneumonia as a result of the virus. Julie Cocchia said after Cody Regional Health checked his vitals he came back with a 102-degree fever. He was not admitted, so she took him to Billings.

She said he is now receiving heavy antibiotics and hydration, and seems to be improving.

The Cocchias initially had their employees wearing face masks but eventually dropped that requirement. Now, Julie Cocchia said she deeply regrets that decision, so much so that she said her business and others not complying deserve to be fined.

“I should get fined for not wearing masks in our own restaurant,” she said. “I don’t think the county is being tough enough.”

Under current health orders all restaurant and bar employees are required to wear masks right now, but many local businesses are not, health officers said.

There is no local punishment for businesses that do not follow the health orders.

The Cocchias shut down the Cody Steakhouse on July 3, missing out on one of the most lucrative business times of the year.

“But that could’ve been a good thing,” Julie Cocchia said.

She said only one of her employees, who worked in the kitchen, tested positive for the virus during the late June time frame, but an additional two employees tested positive who hadn’t worked at the restaurant for more than 10 days beforehand. All other employees tested negative.

She said she had to call the CRH back in order to get her test results, although a hospital spokesperson said they call everyone back who is tested for the virus.

Not an ordinary flu

Julie Cocchia, 55, also tested positive for the virus and was asymptomatic for all but four days. She described that time as “not very nice.”

“It’s not like the flu, it’s 10 times worse than the flu,” she said.

Cocchia would lay down for a short nap but not awaken for many hours. She found the fatigue “physically impossible” to work with.

“One day I was so tired I couldn’t move to get up, and fell asleep in my living room with all the lights on,” she said.

Cocchia had a 101.4 degree fever and experienced other debilitating symptoms such as diarrhea, dehydration, fatigue, chills, loss of smell and lack of taste. She found most foods to taste like cardboard.

“It comes all at once,” she said. “It doesn’t really creep, it just booms.”

She is now out of “COVID jail” as she refers to the 14-day quarantine period, and is cleared to return to work. She has changed her mind about face masks.

“I was a proponent of no face masks,” she said. “Now, I believe they are going to slow the curve.”

New standards

When the restaurant re-opens Thursday, Julie Cocchia plans to institute a face mask requirement for her employees, and is considering requiring customers to wear them too, a requirement seen in many higher- density cities and states.

The quantity of asymptomatic cases also concerns her.

“It’s tough, a really tough thing,” she said. “People don’t realize when they have it.”

It appears she would be the first Cody restaurant to mandate a face mask requirement upon customers. The Whole Foods Trading Company has regulated this, but provided free masks to customers in doing so. Walmart announced a nationwide requirement for customers to wear masks starting July 20.

“Soon as they get to their table they can take it (mask) off but when they go to the bathroom they have to put it back on,” Cocchia said. “I don’t know how that would go over in Cody. We may not be able to do it if we want to keep the restaurant open.”

(17) comments


Yes like everyone I hope they recover. However the symptoms she's describing sure don't sound like it was 10 times worse than the Flu. Matter of fact it sounds exactly like the Flu that went around my home town last year. Covid like the Flu is part of life now so get used to it, we can't afford to destroy the economy over either one. If you're truly afraid of it, stay home. Let those of us who don't care have our lives back.

Suzanne Peete

The Cody Steakhouse has gotten so expensive with small portions that I'm afraid (even before the Covid) they've already blown their chance at viability. The locals have abandoned it and the tourists (especially this season) will not keep the doors open. Mandatory no mask - no service? No problem, we've quit going there anyway


I really hope the Cocchias can recover fully. And I wish for their business to flourish. However, I will not patronize their establishment if a mask mandate is in effect. I will instead patronize other restaurants. And if all the restaurants mandate mask wearing I will not eat out until the mandates are lifted. I posted a similar comment earlier and it seems that it was taken down by the Cody Enterprise. Maybe I was reported by someone...I guess differences of opinions are not to be tolerated by some in the local community...


Good! Stay home if you can't be responsible enough to wear a mask to help protect others. Its all everyone else's problem until it effects you or god forbid someone you care about gets Coivd and its fatal. Is the cost of wearing a mask that burdensome?

Fox Blue River

Silentmajority you sound more than a little bit rude and inconsiderate of others.


Fox, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. You have yours and I have mine. I know my point of view may not be popular with some, I'm ok with that. I know that what I say has merit and that's why I said it. I mean no harm to you or to anyone else. God Bless.


I hope that the Cocchias fully recover and that their business can thrive.

It's their right to ask me to wear a mask if i enter their establishment, but I will then choose not to enter. I will choose another restaurant instead. If they all mandate it, then I will not eat out until the mandates are lifted.


Just to be clear, I am Not calling for a boycott of businesses that mandate a mask to enter. In fact quite the opposite, I would love to see all businesses in Cody recover and thrive. I have spent thousands of $$ over the last month alone in Cody business to help make that happen. I am simply stating that I will choose to not enter if I am forced to wear a mask. I am speaking for myself alone. I am not anti-mask, but they have not been proven to be effective at stopping the spread of the Chinese Virus in many settings, esp if those wearing are healthy or asymptomatic carriers. Or course if I was sick I would certainly not leave the house and spread my contagion but that's they way it has always been.


Silent--You're simply wrong about masks and social distancing. They do work and are all we have and not that difficult, although you do have to first get your head out of your rear. I can tell by your "Chinese" comment that you are a follower of the king of misinformation trump. I applaud businesses that take steps to keep us safe and I make a point to frequent them.


Kudos to Julie for being open and honest and vulnerable! She is speaking out keeping the best interests of the community in mind even as she struggles with the very scary health situation of the love of her life. Frank and Julie are very good people, please send them your love and positive vibes <3


Frank, I'm praying for you. And Julie thanks for the loving care. And thanks to your supportive friends. Here in CT we wear masks to protect our loved ones and neighbors. I'm scared and want to rid ourselves Covid asap. Love from all your cousins.


There is no local punishment for not following health orders? How can that be? Where is our leadership? Love this restaurant and pray for his recovery.


I applaud Julie's new requirement for customers and staff to wear masks, and will now consider dining at Cody Steak House. The rest of the town's establishments needs to step up or be fined.


Julie, thank you for your stance on protecting our community. May Frank recover quickly. My hope is that many people patronize your restaurant to send the message that we appreciate your efforts.

Duel Akins

Good people and we wish Frank and Julie the best. So.....another ill person here in Cody and has to drive past West Park Hospital to take a sick person to Billings? This joint might have changed it's moniker to "Cody Regional Health" but it's still the shoddy run operation that WPH has always been. Sad

Comment deleted.

Great you should just stay home then that's the best place for you if you boycotted every business and Cody Wyoming that had coronavirus sir you wouldn't be going to any businesses so move on

P Demoney

I hope he is able to recover.

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