Norovirus blamed for Longhorn closure

Posted at 10:49 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 06:33:52-05

The Erie County Health Department has released their findings after an inspection of The Longhorn Steakhouse in Cheektowaga.

Officials believe people were infected with Norovirus, however the source of the contamination is still unknown. 

"We didn't find any practices or procedures among the food handlers or the wait staff or anyone in kitchen that would cause us to feel that this was a result of unsafe food handling practices," said Dr. Gale Burstein, Commissioner of Health. 

This inspection came after The Longhorn Steakhouse on Walden Avenue closed unexpectedly Wednesday evening after a number of patrons and employees became ill.

Inspection report findings:

  • No food facility violations were found
  • A restaurant manager states he had five employees go home sick on 1/23/16
  • He has had employees call in sick since 1/23/16
  • No employees ill before Saturday 1/23/16
  • Erie County inspector observed all food prep workers wearing gloves at the time of the inspection
  • Hand-washing was being done by food prep workers as well

A 7 Eyewitness News viewer tipped us off to the situation.

We spoke with Rich Jeffers, the spokesperson for Darden, which runs the chain. He says there were reports from guests that they were suffering from flu-like symptoms.

Jeffers says they worked with the health department, and according to Darden and the Health Department, no violations were found.

He says they voluntarily shutdown the restaurant to clean and sanitize.

Here is the full statement from Darden:

After receiving reports from a few guests and team members who experienced flu-like symptoms, we worked directly with the Health Department. The Health Department inspected the restaurant on Wednesday and found no violations or concerns. The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, which is why we took the additional step of voluntarily closing our restaurant in order to conduct a thorough sanitization on Wednesday and once again Thursday. We plan to reopen later Thursday once that process is complete.

7 Eyewitness News has learned the restaurant will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday.



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